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First Published, April, 
Cheaper Re-issueyOctober y 1922. 







THE aim of these studies is to examine with all possible freedom 
from theoretical bias some phases of human nature which are 
of great interest in themselves, and in the light of the analysis 
to draw certain conclusions. It would have been natural to 
have included in such a series the consideration of certain other 
aspects of human nature, more especially those which concern 
morality and civic institutions. Morality and the conditions of 
citizenship are in many ways the most important forms of 
human life which can engage our attention at the present time ; 
and the influence of the recent upheaval in our experience has 
brought before us many moral problems with a peculiar, and 
perhaps even a new, prominence. It has seemed better, how- 
ever, to reserve the consideration of these and kindred subjects 
for another occasion. 

It is not the purpose of these papers to defend or support 
any of the familiarly accepted theories, whether of idealism or 
reulism. Human nature is far more interesting and much 
more important than any theory, and on that account perhaps 
is tolerant of many theories. It may be remarked, however, 
that the momentum which carried forward one peculiar form 
of idealism the confident and confiding idealism of a genera- 
tion ago seems now to have spent its force ; and that a realism 
which takes the form of a new materialism can hardly claim 
to be in a position to show a better way. For, apart from the 
shock which optimistic idealism has received from the inter- 
national catastrophe of the recent war, the elaboration of a 
theory of a completed and perfect universe, " all inclusive and 
harmonious," (whether this be a demand or a fact, matters not), 
leaves too little for the creative spirit of man to do ; while, on the 


other hand, the exposition of the world in a way. which treats 
human suffering and human ends as derivative or secondary 
leaves for man nothing worth doing. We best avoid the defects 
of one-sided theories if we follow the path of what Sidgwick 
used to all critical common sense, and hold to the natural 
solidarity of human experience to which it clings. This may 
lead us to a theory, or it may not. But we may feel sure that 
our reflection can never keep close enough to common sense. 
" To the solid ground of nature trusts the mind that builds 
for aye." 

The best service which philosophy can render at any time 
is that of supplying a criticism of life. At a time like the 
present, when so much of the past has broken from us, and 
our main hopes for security lie in the future, this service seems 
all the more necessary. It should have its effect more particu- 
larly on the higher aims of the education of a nation, on the 
proper direction of which so much of the future depends. It 
is not promising in these days to see this great agency for 
advance operating without convincing plan of action or clear 
guidance, and, in default of these requirements for success, with- 
drawing behind mediaeval defences slightly altered to meet the 
demands of modern economic efficiency.. Men want confidence 
in the future as well as confidence in the past to make life 
tolerable in the present. And this confidence can only come 
from a fuller insight into the resources of human nature. 






Want of continuity in the history of philosophy No agreement 
between philosophers on the nature or on the solution of 
fundamental problems Sources of defects in philosophical 
theories The position of common sense and the claims of 
philosophy The purpose of human experience. 


The problem of truth, why raised, 13 Present-day views of 
truth as an independent system and as practical success, 14 
Both views neglect two essential conditions of experience, 15. 

Individuality fundamental for the problem and what this involves, 
17 Anthropomorphism, 21. 

Nature of intellectual activity, 22 Meaning of universality, 24 
And objectivity, 26. 

Anthropomorphic origin of conceptions, 29 No pure intellectual 
activity, 30 Contradiction, 31. 

Meaning of the term " limits of thought," 34. 

Other ways of approaching reality than that of thought, 37 
Significance of beauty and goodness, 39. 

Intellectual activity involves emotion and effort, 40. 

Convergence of various avenues to reality on fulfilment of individ- 
uality, 44 Significance of faith, 45 Anthropomorphism and 
ultimate Reality, 46. 


Linear direction of knowledge and its influence on our view of 
knowledge, 47 Whole individuality involved in knowledge, 
49 Mind seeks continuity with its world, 50. 

Desire the starting point of knowlege, 51 Possible explanations 
of knowledge, 51 Knowledge secures independence of individ- 
uality, 52 Object lower than subject in knowledge, 53 
Knowledge of other minds and of God, 54 World interpreted 
in terms of individuality by stages of knowledge, 56 View of 
knowledge as copying and reproducing reality, 57. 

Stages of process of knowledge, 59 Qualitative uniqueness of 
perception, 60 And of reflective thought, 61. 

Unity of mind engaged in conceptual activity, 66 Origin of 
plurality of conceptions, 67. 

The increasing complexity of the object realised by reflection, 71 
Significance of judgment and inference, ibid. Judgment, 72. 

Inference, 74 End of knowledge is both truth and self-realisation 
of the mind, 75. 




KNOWLEDGE ........ 77-104 

Mechanical view of knowledge, 77 End in knowledge funda- 
mental, 78 Emotional interest in endb, 79 Practical interest 
,. in knowledge not primary, 80 Significance of selection, 82 
Course of knowledge controlled by emotion, 84. 

Place of imagination in knowledge, 88 Imagination higher than 
reason, 90 Comparison of imagination and perception, ibid. 

Memory operates in knowledge, 91 Intellects differ in 
calibre, 92 And in sense of logical cogency, 95 Mental 
elation in knowledge, 96 Satisfaction essential to knowledge 
and relative to individuals, 98 Social influences on the course 
of knowledge, 100 Effect of social prejudices on knowledge, 
102 Illustration from theory of evolution, 103. 


The judgment of memory distinctive in character, 105 Impor- 
tance of the problem presented by memory-judgment, 106 
Its three aspects, 107. 

The object of memory, 108 Its essential nature is the continuity 
of individual experience, no Feeling of continuity distinct 
from memory, in Specific memory-judgments are selective, 
in Any past content may be selected, 113 Reference to 
specific time or order of events not essential, 113 Distinction 
between past and present and future, 114. 

Character of memory-judgment, 116 -Does not transcend indi- 
vidual experience, 117 Memory-judgment is synthetic and 
unites part of continuity in past to present content of self, 118 

Past suggested by content of present, 119 Memory- 
judgments involve consciousness of self, 120. 

Memory-judgment complex and ultimate, 122 And immediate, 
124 Forms of memory experience, 125. 

Value and certainty of memory-judgment, 126 Distinct from 
inference, 126 Memory -judgments isolated, 127 But true 
though isolated, 128. 

Conclusions from the preceding analysis, 130 External world 
not the only basis for theory of knowledge, 130 Knowledge 
not extension of present sensation, 131 Knowledge anthropo- 
centric, 131 Objectivity not simply due to common experience, 
131 System not the sole guarantee of truth, 132 Intuition 
an essential form of knowledge, 132. 

THE REAL ......... J 33 

Consciousness of reality varies in degree and kind from individual 
to individual, 133. 

Emotion is one way in which man becomes conscious of reality, 
134 Prejudice against emotion and in favour of intellect, 135 
Emotion misleads and needs control, as also do ideas, 136- 
Emotion supplies sense of organic unity with the world, 137 
And is a clue to the nature of other beings, 138. 



Emotions are anthropomorphic, 139 Supplement rational know- 
ledge, 141 Emotions of various kinds are different ways of 
experiencing the real, 143 They involve body and mind 
together, 144 And give sense of individuality, 145 Emotions 
are independent of reasons, 146 And give more reality than 
knowledge, 147 They discover the individual to himself, 148 
And promote sense of distinctiveness of individuality, 149 
Development and discipline of emotion, 150. 

Education of emotions, 152. 

Purpose of differentiation of emotions, 153 Degrees of kinship 
with kinds of reality established by emotion, 154 Complete 
kinship with beings of the same nature, society, 155. 

Emotions develop in the interest of self-maintenance, 159 
Emotional consciousness of all inclusive Reality, 160 Of two 
kinds, (a) impersonal, beauty, 161 Art, 163 (b) Personal, 
165 Religion lower limit, fear, 1 66 Upper limit, love, 167. 

Notes on theories of emotion, 170. 


Scepticism is natural, 172 Its sources, 173 Different from doubt 
or denial, 173 Or mental hesitation, 174. 

Forms of scepticism, 174 Does not apply to emotion, or action, 
or to mental states, 175 Scepticism regarding perception, 176 
And regarding ideas, 178. 

Scepticism deals with knowledge, 184 But insists on the signifi- 
cance of the particular against the claims of the universal, 184. 

Suggested explanation of scepticism, 186 Analogy between 
sceptical attitude and self-will, 187 Scepticism and the moral 
life, 190. 

Scepticism a recurrent attitude, 191 Attempts to refute scepti- 
cism, 192. 


Philosophy the interest of a few minds, 195 Philosophers not 

representative of humanity, 197. 
Philosophy seeks to give a special and peculiar form of satisfaction, 

203 Argument and inference of limited value, 205. 
Importance of philosophy lies in the object considered, 207 

Philosophy socially conditioned, 208. 

General ideas embodied in language the starting point of philo- 
sophy, 210 Maximum of satisfaction sought by philosophy, 

211 Divergence of philosophies according to the problem, 212. 
Individuality the basis of thinking, 213 Effect of mechanical 

views of thought, 215. 
No supreme unity of thought need be assumed, 216 Analogous 

cases of art and morality, 219 Artistic interest in systems of 

thought, 221. 
Philosophy one way of gaining a deeper consciousness of reality, 

222 And is distinctive in its form, 225. 
Selective interest in the problems of philosophy, 227 No single 

method in philosophy, 228 And no continuous progress in 

philosophy, 229. 



Supposed opposition of science and the humanities due to the 
object matter and conclusions of scientific procedure, 231. 

Scientists' one-sided view of nature, 233 Man a part of nature, 
234 Procedure of science suggests that mind is passive in 
reflection, 235 Science the creation of mental activity of 
various kinds, 235 Logical necessity obtained in obedience to 
laws of intellect, 237. 

Process and result of science alike involve human mind, 238 
This true of abstract sciences equally with concrete sciences, 239 
Science an historical phenomenon peculiar to certain peoples, 
241 Point of view of East and West, 243. 

The three primary ends of human life, 245 All necessary and all 
claim fulfilment, 247 Yet distinct, 249. 

.Science and practical welfare, 249. 

Practical results, 250. 


These emotions complementary, 254 Consciousness of the 
ludicrous implies a judgment of appreciation as distinct from 
judgment of understanding, 255. 

No single end involved in all kinds of laughter, 258 But end 
must not be defeated by incongruous process, 259 Specific 
incongruity involved in laughter, 260. 

Illustrations of this view, 260 Three sources of the socially 
comic, 263. 

Comic drama and laughter, 265. 

Different kinds of laughter, 267 Conventional laughter, 270 
Social character of laughter, 271 Erroneous views, 272. 

Tears due to discordance of process with an end accepted as lost, 
273 End must be a personal good, 275 Loss may be due to 
nature or to will, 275 Spontaneity of tears, 277. 

Tearful emotion primarily individual, 278 But secondarily social, 
281 Cosmic emotion may lead to tears, 283. 

Tears and tragedy, 284. 

Significance of laughter and tears in economy of experience, 287 
Bergson's view of laughter, 288 Laughter and tears are 
inarticulate adjustments of the unity of the mind to the unin- 
telligible element in experience, 291. 

Note on physiological aspect of these emotions, 293. 

INDEX 295-296 



"Oh, qu'il est difficile d'etre & la fois ingenieux et sense*." JOUBERT. 


CONSIDERATION of the history of philosophical theories lends 
little or no support to the opinion, which appears to be held in 
certain quarters, that philosophy reveals a progressive continuity 
in its history. The theories have indeed one element in common : 
their purpose is the same from one generation to another. Their 
aim is to undertake a critical investigation or exposition of " first 
principles." There the similarity ends ; for even the meaning of 
" first principles " is not a matter on which all philosophers are 
agreed. Doubtless we can trace a certain limited continuity for 
a short period ; and then we have a school or again a reaction 
from a type of thought which has for a time become dominant. 
But the controlling influence of one thinker has ere long to give 
way before the stronger claim of the instinct to examine or re- 
examine afresh ultimate principles. What is true of the history 
of philosophy is equally true of contemporary philosophy. Not 
merely are the problems discussed different, but the most diverse 
theories on the same topics are expounded and defended at one 
and the same period of time, with no resulting concurrence and 
very little convergence of opinion. 

This want of unanimity would not be of great moment were 
it not for an underlying conviction which many scientists and 
some philosophers seem to share, that in the region of the intellect 
human minds have common ground, and that in the operations 
of the reason, if anywhere, all men may be expected to agree. 
In the ordinary way of human intercourse such a conviction is 
certainly not supported ; but when we find that those whose 

* B 


mttier it is to cultivate rationality for its own sake equally fail 
to secure intellectual concord, the conviction in question loses 
all authority or self-evidence, and becomes little more than an 
aspiration or a point of view. Neither in the realm of pure 
philosophy, nor in the minor matters of daily life, nor in the 
greater affairs of civilisation, does there seem to plain common 
sense any solid foundation in experience for maintaining that in- 
tellectual activity as such is a sure pathway to unanimity between 
human individuals. The recent overwhelming catastrophe to 
the civilisation of Europe has made it all too painfully evident, 
though not for the first time in history, that neither man's reason 
nor his ideals are proof against the onslaughts of chaos and the 
agencies of disorder which reserve their impending ruin for the 
purposes of mankind till the appointed time. It may be said, 
indeed, that if all men did follow the leading of intellectual 
insight they would come to an understanding. There is, how- 
ever, not much satisfaction in this hypothesis. The fact which 
has to be recognised is rather that man's concrete individuality 
is all compact of many functions besides that of the intellect ; 
and it is in the inseparable co-operation and interaction of all the 
various factors of his individual being that his real life consists. 
In the day's business and in the task of the philosopher this 
complexity of his nature dominates the entire situation with 
which he is confronted, and from this there is no successful escape 
by any process of mere abstraction. 


When we turn to the specific fields of philosophy, not merely 
do we find that there is recurring diversity of treatment, but in 
no sphere can it be held that a single comprehensive problem 
has been solved beyond further dispute. The problem of human 
knowledge is handled differently according as one or other of 
the three most prominent types of knowledge is taken to be of 
primary importance for the attainment of the truth about reality. 
These types are sense-perception, judgment, and the process of 
inference. A theory of knowledge or system of logical doctrine 


will be founcl to take one of these as fundamental for all know- 
ledge and to treat the others as relatively subordinate. 1 The 
form and substance of the theory will vary accordingly. To one 
philosopher truth is obtained mainly through the channel of 
sense-perception ; judgment and inference are processes which 
assist in realising, and which are essentially concerned with, the 
varied content of perceptual truth. To another the chief problem 
of knowledge is concentrated in the nature of judgment to which 
sense-perception supplies " material," and for which inference has 
significance because and in so far as it can issue in a correct 
judgment. While to other thinkers truth is essentially ex- 
pressible as an explicitly connected arrangement of thoughts or 
process of inference, relatively to which both sense-perception 
and judgment are subordinate, either in the sense of providing 
the material for inference in different ways, or of being imper- 
fectly developed stages in the realisation of systematically 
connected thought. 2 Which of these types of knowledge is 
adopted as primary depends, as far as we can see, not on any 
intellectual necessity, but on the individual constitution of the 
thinker, and his mental attitude to the world. It is, in a word, 
a selective interest in the truth rather than a logical necessity 
which determines the choice ; while this selective interest again 
is controlled largely by historical associations and development. 

1 It is strange to find Mr. Bosanquet stating that " Logic has no criterion of 
truth or test of reasoning " (Logic> vol. i. p. 3). One may fairly ask how he can 
maintain such a position in the face of his declaration that for " logic at all events it 
is a postulate that the truth is the whole )J ? What is such a proposition except a 
" criterion of truth," a criterion, moreover, which he is at pains to apply throughout 
his entire work ? 

2 It is indeed remarkable to observe how these types of logical theory repeatedly 
recur in the history of philosophy, without bringing philosophers any nearer to 
unanimity. In Greek philosophy we have the problem of knowledge handled by 
the Sophists from the point of view of sense-perception ; to Plato the chief interest 
in knowledge was concentrated in the question of predication or the nature of judg- 
ment ; while for Aristotle knowledge was supremely realised in the form of demon- 
strative proof or inference. When attention was directed to the question of knowledge 
in the eighteenth century the same theories recur ; Locke laying stress on the funda- 
mental importance of truth as revealed by sense -perception, Kant on truth as expressed 
in the function of judgment, while after him Hegel placed the main emphasis on 
rational connection or inference. And in more recent years we have a similar 
sequence of theories of knowledge in Mill, Bradley, and Bosanquet. 


There is no way of securing agreement between thinkers who 
start from essentially different primary convictions, and no ex- 
pectation, therefore, that the problem of knowledge will be solved 
in a form which will meet with universal assent. 

In the sphere of Ethics, it cannot be maintained by the most 
sympathetic interpreter of theories of the good, that the funda- 
mental questions raised by the moral life have been answered in 
a way which meets with general assent from those who have 
considered the subject. What we find in the history of Ethics 
is the discussion of morality from the most diverse points of 
view, and the promulgation of theories having little or nothing 
in common except their subject-matter and the confident assur- 
ance of each philosopher in the soundness of his own particular 
theory. 1 

As to Metaphysics, few would maintain in the light of the 
history of philosophy that agreement amongst philosophers on 
this subject was even to be expected, much less that it had been 
secured. Each theory stands by itself in splendid isolation, a 
monument to the daring of some heaven-scaling intellectual 
adventurer with neither ancestor nor posterity. It is not merely 
that the structure created by one mind does not meet the 
requirements of another : what is equally important is that the 
style of architecture adopted by one does not adequately satisfy 
the artistic sense of another, whose individuality must find 
expression in a different way. The composition of one acts as a 
stimulus to another not so much because of the failure of the 
first as because of the awakening of a new inspiration in the 
second. Hence no metaphysician is daunted or hindered by his 
predecessors' work ; and in the generously vast territory of reality 
there is abundance of room for different structures of thought 
with freehold property in perpetuity for the builder. Each builds 
as he may and as he can for his own sake. 

1 It seems needless to illustrate this in detail. If we take the three chief works 
in the history of Ethics, where the moral life is handled with equal intellectual frank- 
ness and with unbiassed insight into the actual facts of moral experience Aristotle's 
Ethics, Von Hartmann's Phanomcnologic des sittlichen Bewusstseins> and Sidgwick's 
Methods of Ethics we shall find that neither in method nor in results is there any 
essential agreement. 


" If tired with systems, each in its degree 

Substantial, and all crumbling in their turn, 
Let him build systems of his own, and smile 
At the fond work, demolished with a touch." 1 

So great is the diversity of theories propounded by meta- 
physicians that some philosophers in despair of finding unanimity 
in this sphere of intellectual activity maintain that the problem 
is insoluble, while some have sought to prove that the human 
intellect is not in a position to undertake it at all. But such 
views cannot fail to manifest their own ineptitude by the very 
attempt to establish them. It is at once ironical and ridiculous 
to offer our incompetence as our supreme sacrifice on the altar of 
truth. 2 If what is most worth knowing is incapable of being 
known, one naturally asks whether knowledge is of any serious 
importance to human life. It may not be the business of 
metaphysics to provide intellectual finality, but it is certainly 
folly to try to give a final proof that finality is unattainable. We 
can only find out how much we can know by making the attempt. 
Very few indeed are capable of composing the "dialectical 
hymn" of philosophy; and the hymns which are composed 
generally seem to be but the swan songs of passing epochs of 
human thought. But those who "feel called upon to propound 
metaphysical theories have never been and will never be deterred 
from doing so by the failure of metaphysicians to agree amongst 
themselves. The disagreement in fact is part of the interest of 
the undertaking. 

The mere formulation of the problem shows that diversity of 
views is inevitable. Metaphysicians claim to start on their way 
"without presuppositions." This is manifestly impossible both 
in fact and in logic. Left without presuppositions from which to 
begin, the thinker has no absolute starting point at all. The 
starting point is therefore a matter of choice or even caprice, 
and must depend on the interest of the historically placed 
individuality of each thinker. And this is precisely what takes 

1 Wordsworth, Excursion, IV. 

2 It reminds one of certain primitive tribes who in their religious ceremonies 
consume all the parts of the animal that are fit to eat and offer to the god the parts 
that are unfit for human consumption. 


place. Each makes his own assumptions, and proceeds as he 
thinks best. 

Moreover, it is quite clear that most metaphysicians do start 
with some presuppositions. One of the commonest of these is 
that Reality is a completed whole, fixed in its constitution and 
final in its arrangement. This is surely a profoundly important 
assumption, which seriously governs the interpretation of the 
metaphysician. Nor is the assumption self-evident or beyond 
question. Why should not Reality be ever changing or, like life, 
ever growing, with aeons instead of epochs for its units of change ? 
At each stage it would be constant or fixed for beings with so 
small a time-span and so imperfectly developed as ourselves. 
Yet for itself it would never be a fixed or final whole in any 
logically exact sense. 1 

It is useless therefore to condemn metaphysicians for offering 
essentially different answers to what ostensibly seems the same 
problem, or to find fault with the human mind for undertaking 
to give a solution. Each interpretation is but a point of 
view, and each individual thinker has his own perspective 
of his subject. Those thinkers will be found to make the most 
hazardous adventure who most strongly claim finality for their 
theories. An excellent illustration of this is provided by a 
recent theory which presents an impressive and persuasive 
argument for universal acceptance that of Mr. Bosanquet. Not 
merely do the logical foundations of his theory seem insecure, 2 

1 The view that Reality is absolutely fixed in its scope and substance seems to me 
an illustration of the powerful influence which the spatially constituted physical 
world of science always exerts on the mind of the philosopher as of other men. It 
is so difficult for thought to grasp the significance of life and mind for the nature 
of reality. 

2 See Logic, vol. i., Introduction, 2, and 3 and especially 7. I refer more particularly 
(a) to his effort to get the logical idea absolutely clear of the psychological occurrence 
in the individual mind ; (b) to the identification of the phrase the "meaning of the 
world " with the hardly intelligible phrase a " world of meanings " ; (c) to the 
paradox that "the world as known to each of us is constructed and sustained by his 
individual consciousness," when it seems all too evident that it is not we who sustain 
our world but our world which sustains us, whether we are awake or asleep ; and 
(d) to the transparent ambiguity in the use of the term " reality " as applying at once 
to a "construction " of thought and to a world brought home to the intelligence as 
real by sense-perception which is not thought but a "point of contact" with reality 
as thought. 


and his methpd of procedure unworkable, 1 but certain legitimate 
and admitted developments of the argument seem to produce 
confusion in the whole system. It is held that in the Absolute 
all finite individuality requires and receives such supplementation 
and internal transformation that what constitutes its peculiar 
character as a finite and therefore imperfect individuality com- 
pletely disappears ; and in particular that all finite truth is so 
transformed by its setting in the absolute truth that in the long 
run finite truth cannot be said to be really true. But if this is 
so it must apply in all its force to the truth contained or 
presented in the system of the philosopher who is propounding 
this theory, for that is transparently a truth delivered by a 
finite being and holding for a finite being with all his limi- 
tations. The truth of this system is " in the long run " not 
true. Moreover, truth which is not true in the long run 
cannot be accepted as true even in the short run of finite 
experience, for the only truth worth having, at any rate in 
metaphysics, is that which holds in the long run. Thus the 
theory which claims to be absolute truth turns out to be only 
relatively true. It is in a worse position than pure relativism ; 
for absolute relativism is at the worst inconsistent, but a relative 
absolutism is meaningless. Such is the penalty of trying to 
establish absolute truth by means of " the dialectic of finitude." 2 

1 For even if, in justice to the Absolute, we accept the proposition that absolute 
Reality is devoid of contradiction, is all inclusive and harmonious, and that finite 
reality is inherently contradictory, how is it possible for a finite being either to 
establish such a result or to remove final contradiction ? Transparently the finite 
individuality of the philosopher as of everything else is inherently contradictory, and 
his mind therefore never can transcend the state or stage of contradiction in which 
his nature consists and which, being essential, must infect all his processes. 

This school seems to take a satisfaction in showing that finite reality is "contra- 
dictory " or " self-contradictory," or " internally discordant/' It is surely dangerous 
to attack finitude with such a double-edged weapon as the principle of contradiction. 
Why should the " contradiction " not be our own creation ? If Reality is 
indeed so perfect and self-complete why should we quarrel with its component 
factors ? 

2 In another connection I have tried to show that by the dialectic development 
of thought or of experience it is impossible to reach the finality of an absolute system. 
See The Origin of HegeVs Logic, chap. xii. 

Perhaps every system which claims to be final is open to a similar line of 
criticism. Dr. Ward remarks (in his paper on " Method," in the Transactions of the 


It is indeed a curious irony that a logical develppment of a 
" final system " should be hardly distinguishable from pure 

Again, it is maintained that all finite individuals are predicates 
of a subject, and in the long run of an absolute subject, and that 
as predicates they have no substantiality. They are transient. 
As substantiated they are torn from their real substance and are 
in effect illusory. If this be so, it holds of the individual thinker 
who maintains this theory, and still more of his theory as a 
quality or predicate of his being. Ultimately, therefore, the 
philosopher himself has no substantiality. What then becomes 
of his theory ? Moreover, if all finite individuals are ultimately 
predicates of one subject, the distinction between finite subject 
and predicate becomes purely relative. The finite subject is in 
the long run not real and has no real predicates ; for a subject 
without real predicates ceases to be a subject. But if in the 
sphere of finitude, in which our experience is rooted, the reality 
of the distinction between subject and predicate disappears, we 
have removed the basis on which to rest the relation of an abso- 
lute subject to its predicates, for this derives its significance 
primarily from our finite experience. 


This review of the want of unanimity between philosophers 
and the failure of philosophy to reach certainty on the main 
issues discussed, must give any candid mind ground for reflection 
concerning the claims of the philosopher to supply the final or 
the whole meaning of reality. 1 The diverse results seem so 

Aristotelian Society \ 1919) that it is more important that a philosophy should be 
systematic than that it should be complete. 

1 It is often said that the explanation of the disagreement amongst philosophers 
is to be found in the ambiguity of words, or again in the total inadequacy of ordinary 
language to convey their ideas. Hence the various attempts which have been made 
to invent or establish a conventional philosophical language, a system of agreed 
symbols which all philosophers should accept and use in expounding philosophical 
truth. Such attempts are doomed to failure, and in fact have never succeeded. 
Philosophy is too closely bound up with the issues of living experience, deals with 
too concrete material, and is too intimately associated with the purposes of per- 
sonality, to be confined arbitrarily to one type of language or deprived of the full 


inadequate and unsatisfying in face of the complex riches and 
teeming life of the world. Philosophy, no doubt, seeks by the 
concentrated use of the intellect to bring us nearer to reality. 
But unless the philosopher can offer in his theory a better and 
a deeper sense of reality than men ordinarily have, no one will 
thank him for his pains. Sandpapered concepts and ingeniously 
soldered systems seem far removed from the vivid intensity of 
actual experience. The divergence of views doubtless partly 
arises from a difference of personality which inevitably creates a 
difference in perspective. But the inadequacy of their results 
seems to a great extent due to a want of responsiveness to the 
immense resources of reality. Reality requires an uncommonly 
rich and full personality to do it complete justice in a system. 
Most philosophers have been seriously handicapped in their task 

resources of literary exposition. Science can afford to be technical, and to utilise 
the unvarying and, by the nature of the case, invariable terminology supplied by the 
vanished civilisations of Greece and Rome. This secures constancy of meaning, 
which corresponds aptly to the fixity of scientific concepts. But a technical language 
in philosophy would alienate philosophy from the restless and inexhaustible spirit of 
truth which is its ceaseless inspiration, and would in consequence quickly terminate 
its enterprise. 

This attempt to ensure philosophical certainty by a technical form of exposition 
has always been as attractive as it is ingenuous, and it constantly recurs. For reasons 
which are obvious it appeals perhaps most frequently to those whose minds have 
been much influenced by the orderliness and aesthetic symmetry of mathematical 
reasoning. It seems natural to suppose that a manner of exposition which is so 
serviceable in an exact science might with advantage be adapted to knowledge 
generally and in particular to philosophy. This easily leads the mind to entertain 
the still more perilous suggestion that somehow the manner of exposition adopted in 
mathematics has an essential connection with the truth expressed. 

We find at the present day a reappearance of this artifice. Certain writers seem 
to imagine that philosophical ideas gain in clearness and cogency when formulated in 
the language of algebraical symbol. If this be their assumption it seems a strange 
illusion. A man does not alter his character by changing his tailor. We cannot 
escape the risks of contradiction by writing in shorthand. Nor does truth become 
any more valuable by a process of condensation. And when words of ordinary speech 
are contracted or mutilated to serve the purposes of symbolic philosophical writing, 
the procedure loses even the appearance of seriousness and becomes ridiculous. This 
is illustrated in a recent article, by an ingenious writer of this school, when in all 
solemnity he proposes to escape the risks of using such words as " imply " or " infer " 
by a symbolic adoption of " ent " in place of the word "entail." What special 
advantage can be gained by such a process of mutilation, or why this writer should 
have made <>ff with one end of the word rather than with the other, are questions 
which it is not easy for any one with a sense of humour to answer. 


by the inadequacy of their mental equipment and tbe compara- 
tive narrowness of their outlook : and it is neither easy nor 
satisfactory to make up for the want of penetrating insight by 
the industrious pedantry of logic. For human life vision and 
prevision are far more important than logical technique. Too 
often the philosopher's work shows a second-hand knowledge 
of human nature, a precarious acquaintance with science, and a 
naive ignorance of the world. But defects of personality are not 
the only source of the unsatisfactoriness of their results. It is 
perhaps mainly due to their attempt to concentrate the entire 
meaning of the world into the processes of the abstract intellect. 
Against this plain common sense maintains and will always assert 
that the intellect is but one activity of man's soul, that it never 
acts by itself but always in co-operation with the many other 
functions of his life, that all his functions act and re-act on each 
other, and that through each and all of these in distinction as 
well as together he acquires his full sense of reality. In this 
contention I cannot doubt that common sense is amply justified 
by the facts of actual experience. 

It seems to me important to point out not merely what 
knowledge in general and philosophy in particular can do, but 
what they cannot accomplish, and to insist that the complex 
individuality of man is the best clue to the nature of reality 
and not intellectual activity alone. It is with this in view that 
I have sought in these essays to show how thought is in fact 
affected and influenced by other factors of our mental life ; and 
to maintain the position, which I take to be that of common 
sense, that we require and use all our functions to sustain the 
equilibrium of our individuality with the real and to become 
alive to what reality is for us. Even with all our powers 
working at their best and to their utmost, we shall not exhaust 
or realise in conscious experience the fullness of the world in 
communion with which we seek to discover our souls. Know- 
ledge alone is insufficient for our ends. It is one form of 
experience, and neither the whole of experience nor a substitute 
for any other kind. Men encounter reality through the secondary 
mind of their organic senses, through their interaction with their 
fellow-creatures or through the unheard melodies of memory, as 


well as through the strenuous energy of intellectual reflection. 
And if it be said that the deliverances of these various channels 
of approach to reality which experience provides, are too diverse 
or even discordant to be accepted, and that systematic reflection 
is necessary to reduce them somehow to consistency, the reply 
of common sense is unanswerable : it prefers the apparent dis- 
cordance of healthy natural sanity to the artificial symmetry of 
a philosophical system. The philosopher is too eager to find 
contradictions and in too great a hurry to reconcile them. The 
man of common sense thinks the philosopher's truths are self- 
created, and that, having identified the apparent incongruities of 
actual experience with the inconsistencies of his own thought, 
he puts the blame on the nature of things. Common sense 
points to the historical failure of philosophy to create a fuller 
sense of reality. Judged by results, indeed, it would even 
appear that the human intellect is less fitted for its task than 
almost every other function of the human mind. For whereas 
most functions of the mind adjust us with apparent adequacy 
to the world, the intellect never seems adequately to realise its 
end. It would seem that this part of man's constitution is not 
yet sufficiently developed to accomplish what it undertakes, and 
hence its constant defeat. The philosopher would have nature 
and human life expressed in terms of reason, consistent and 
complete. But, looking no further afield than the recent appalling 
calamity in our history, one is bound to conclude that in the 
cosmic ordering of human life the Spirit of the World must have 
something else to do than to be reasonable as we count reason- 
ableness. It is possible that not reasonableness but dramatic 
completeness may be the chief unifying quality of man's life. 
Human life is not a scientific enterprise, nor the universe a mere 
riddle for philosophers. Nor when we are face to face with 
physical nature can we seriously maintain that it will offer up 
its whole secret to the human intellect. No one who has seen 
a summer sunrise transmute the rocks and hills into diaphanous 
jewels set upon the regal robes of dawn will ever imagine that 
the full significance of the scene is reserved for the text-books 
of the geologist or the cosmology of the philosopher. Know- 
ledge is but one channel of satisfaction for the mind. It fulfils 


its purpose in the larger plan of experience, and makes its special 
contribution to the process by which man discovers the real. 

Human experience seems an experiment or a venture for the 
conservation and fulfilment of our personality. Instead of the 
course of experience ultimately merging the individual in 
the Absolute, as is currently held by a certain type of philo- 
sophical theory, there seems good ground for maintaining 
precisely the opposite that the process, under the conditions of 
space and time, consists in the emergence of the individual out 
of the Absolute or Nature into the definiteness of a substantive 
personality. 1 The world provides the opportunity for the 
discovery of the Divine and the Human Spirit. And we must 
be prepared to find that the process of discovery is partly one of 
disillusionment. In that enterprise philosophy will always play 
its part ; but only for a few. Not because more might not adopt 
it, but because they have other and for them better ways of 
arriving at Reality. There can be no obligation on any one to 
take the critical highway of philosophy : it is a matter of choice 
or inclination. Doubtless, as JPlato remarks, a life without self- 
examination is not a life for man. But philosophy is not the 
only form of self-examination. It is one way to mental freedom, 
a way which those will take who think it worth while. They 
need not expect that their solutions will be accepted, or even their 
problems fully appreciated, by other minds. But the spirit of 
intellectual freedom must be kept alive from generation to 
generation, and for this no labour is too great and, let us hope, 
none is ultimately thrown away. 

1 In the explanation of human life, philosophers are apt to lay far too much 
stress on the end. In dealing with life what we come from is just as important as 
where we are going to ; and the former has the advantage, for purposes of explanation, 
in being more ascertainable. 


tva. fy 

ATHANASIUS : De Incarnatione. 

" 1st nicht der Kern der Natur 
Menschen im Herzen?" 


THERE is a pathetic irony in the constant recurrence throughout 
the history of the human intellect of the elementary question 
"What is truth?' 1 After the brilliant and comparatively 
successful achievements of science during the last hundred years, 
this question is still raised with all the freshness of a new problem. 
And it is perhaps all the more curious that the scientists who 
claim to possess truth hardly seem to trouble themselves about 
its nature ; while those who seek to know its meaning are not in 
general scientists, but " philosophers." Underlying the question 
there seems to lurk a sense of disappointment with the results 
derived from the arduous activity of the human intellect, a feeling 
which suggests not so much " Was it worth while to spend human 
energy in this way ? " but rather " Is this all that the intellect 
can contribute to enrich the human spirit ? " A skilfully 
linked chain of reasoning, a system of ideas or concepts, be they 
never so " objective," an orderly arrangement of categories in 
what way do these or can these satisfy the mind ? There is also 
implied the suggestion that, even on the most favourable view 
of truth, it is but one direction in which the mind seeks fulfil- 
ment ; and that its direction must be distinguished from, or 
co-ordinated with, other equally important human interests in what 
is good, or, again, in what is beautiful. There would clearly be 




no meaning in raising the question if scientific .truth were 
literally all that the human mind sought ; or, at any rate, the 
question regarding truth could not be raised in this simple form. 
If the answer is to be forthcoming it can only be given in terms 
different from and, in general, wider than truth itself: otherwise 
we should raise the question again in our answer, or know the 
answer before we raised the question ; and either way our 
procedure would be frivolous. 1 

It is because of this inherent limitation in the significance 
which truth has for the human mind, a limitation which becomes 
as obvious by our increasing success in reaching truth as by our 
failure to attain it, that the mind in its concern for its completer 
life seeks to fix the place of truth in the economy of its experience. 
In our own time we find those who, laying stress on the inde- 
pendence of truth, treat the human mind as but a medium in 
which truth is intermittently realised or focussed ; the mind is 
subordinate to the truth, and shapes its conscious processes in 
terms of an " objective " order or system. In inevitable reaction 
from this position there are those who consider that truth is not 
independent of the mind, that truth is at best subordinate to and 
dominated by the prior practical interests of the mind, is a mere 
instrument for its purposes. The one, it may be said, holds that 
the individual mind is made what it is by the truth, the other 
that the truth is what the mind practically makes it to be ; the 
one insists that ideas " work " because they are true, the other 
that they are true because they work ; the one maintains that 
the course of our ideas is determined in the interest of the truth, 
the other that the truth is determined in the interest of our 
practical ideas. Between these two, clearly no reconciliation is 
possible ; nor can one give way to the other, for no argument 
from either side reaches the underlying assumptions of the other. 
Both, indeed, may agree that a truth can be true only for an 
individual mind, since there is no mind which is not an individual 
mind in some sense or degree of individuality ; but there is no 

1 Similarly the complete answer to the question cannot be found by postulating 
a " criterion " of truth. A criterion of truth must itself be a true criterion, and we are 
thus at once in an indefinite regress in the search for such an instrument, or we already 
have it in our hands all the while. 


possible agreement between them when one says that a truth is 
never true if it is only " my truth/' while the other says that a truth 
which is not " my truth " is no truth at all. These are contrary 
propositions : they may both be false, but cannot be true together 
or be reconciled as they stand. The assumption in the one case 
is that the individual mind is always qualified by a particular 
element which either is, or should be, in process of dissolution 
into the universality characteristic of truth ; the assumption in 
the other case is that the particular element is in itself precious 
to the individual, and neither can nor should be surrendered 
to the claims of a universal which, however important, is always 
" abstract " and incapable of doing full justice to what is particular. 
Whatever language may be used to express these views, and 
whatever special aspect of individuality may be emphasised in one 
case or denied in the other, the generalisation of the principles 
defended in the two cases leads us inevitably to this sheer 
divergence between their fundamental presuppositions. 

Both views ignore two fundamental conditions of human 
experience, and neglect of these is the chief source of the difficulty 
of finding any reconciliation between their opposing positions. 
They both deal with the individual mind as a fully developed 
and fully equipped finite reality face to face with a statically 
complete and finished realm of objects or groups of objects 
existing alongside the individual mind. The activity of the 
mind is thus made to consist in co-ordinating its processes to this 
objective realm, one view laying chief stress on the reference to 
the objective sphere with which the mind has to be co-ordinated, 
the other on the mental process of co-ordination. It is forgotten 
by both alike that the individual mind is never fully developed 
at all, but is ever growing from the earliest date of its existence 
to the last. Its growth towards ever-increasing fulfilment of 
its being and of unison with its world is the very essence of its 

Again, both overlook the fact that behind the processes of 
both practical action and intellectual procedure lies the more 
ultimate reality of the single indivisible individuality itself. It 
is this which determines the laws and conditions of practice, and 
the laws and conditions of intellectual activity. Thus, for 


instance, the essence of all thinking consists /n grouping 
differences within a single principle, in finding an identity which 
animates distinctions. But this character of thought is derived 
from the nature of the individual mind, which is a living unity of 
all its varied manifestations. To attempt, therefore, to express the 
whole nature of human individuality in terms of the intellect, to 
describe its living procedure as a logical procedure, and its chief 
end as the attainment of some scheme of conceptual truth, is a 
complete inversion of the actual connection between thought and 
mental individuality. Individuality prescribes the course which 
thought has to take, not thought the character which individuality 
should possess. It is because the mind is an organic unity in 
variety that thought is a function of mind operating in the way it 
does, viz., by seeking identity in difference. Individuality is not 
wholly or simply logical in its procedure, because it can function 
logically ; and, therefore, logical procedure is neither the sole aim 
nor the sole clue to the nature of individuality. 1 That logical 
procedure is not the sole clue to the meaning of mental individu- 
ality is plain when we note that the same fundamental nature of 
mind, as an indivisible concrete unity of all its processes, 
determines the laws and conditions not merely of practical 
procedure in the strict sense, but the emotional life of mind, its 
aesthetic procedure, the process of striving, the processes of 
memory, imagination and perception. All these operate in their 
own sphere as special expressions of the fundamental nature of 

1 This fallacy, or, shall I say, misconception, seems to me to underlie the work of 
Mr. Bosanquet, who may be taken as one representative of the view that human 
individuality finds itself in becoming conscious of an independent scheme or system of 
intellectual truth. We have but to recall his constant use of such expressions as the 
logic of will, the logic of feeling, the logic of individuality, and the like, not to speak 
of his insistence on the logical principle of non-contradiction as a clue to ultimate 
truth, in order to see the justification for this remark. Doubtless he is forced by the 
facts to use other and quite different expressions, as I shall point out ; but there can 
be no question, I think, of the main tendency of his view. The facility with which 
the processes of will, for example, can be rendered into logical formulae is largely 
illusory. Given that the mind is the source of the laws and conditions of both will 
and intellect, and that the same ultimate principle of mind (unity in variety) governs 
and determines both, and the possibility of translating the processes of one function 
into the terms of the other follows almost as a matter of course. In the same 
way we might, and do, translate intellectual processes into the language and 
procedure of will. 


mental life, oft which each is but a particular form. They require 
no assistance from intellectual procedure as such, and are not 
affected or governed by its peculiar laws. This is seen in actual 
experience, e.g. in the success with which the life of the ordinary 
moral agent, or again of the artist, can be prosecuted in spite of 
the fact that these individuals neither can nor care to understand 
the attempt to interpret their procedure in the language and 
in the terms of conception, which is the peculiar business of those 
who are mainly interested in intellectual activity. Nor are they 
perturbed by the contention, put forward by those who pursue 
the aims of the intellect, that thought occupies a privileged 
position in the life of mind, seeing that thought interprets and 
understands. For the reply is obvious that thought only has a 
primary significance for those whose business it is to pursue 
the aims of thought, and that it is natural to regard as more 
important what one finds to be one's main interest. The 
philosopher (or the man of science) can convince no one but a 
philosopher that thinking holds a place of privilege in the life of 
the mind. Men of action or artists will neither concede nor deny 
the contention of the philosopher ; they will regard it with 
indifference or toleration, and will feel instinctively that it is an 
argument in defence of a foregone conclusion based on prejudice 
or predilection. The artist will probably say 

" The rest may reason, and welcome, 
'T is we musicians know." 


If then we are to determine the place which truth holds in 
experience, or its value for human life, we must start from a 
position which does justice to the nature of human individuality ; 
for this is fundamental for the whole problem. I feel on solid 
ground when I regard the individual mind as a supreme conscious 
realisation of the energy of life, rooted in the inorganic elements 
of nature, inseparable from lower organic processes and 
conditions, and utilising all these to sustain and fulfil the higher 
level of vital energy in which mind consists. Being a form of life, 
the characteristic quality of its activity is that of development 



in response to and co-respondence with the wovld in \yhich 
it has become consciously alive. Being more than mere physical 
organisation, its development is more than mere physical growth, 
and is not arrested at the stage of physiological maturity. Its 
development consists primarily in development of internal 
arrangement, not of external embodiment ; a qualitative rather 
than a quantitative process. As a developing individuality, it 
faces its world with its whole energies, in their global entirety, 
if I may call it so, a development which proceeds not in a linear 
direction, but as a compact whole, carrying all its specific functions 
along with it in indissoluble co-ordination. Differentiation of its 
functions arises through its action and reaction on its world, but 
the integrity of the whole remains a reality, the primary reality, 
from first to last. In much the same way (though profoundly 
different in kind) a plant does not cease to be a whole after it 
has become differentiated into trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit. 
What we have later in the fulfilment of mind is the same unity 
of life as we have earlier, and the same interpenetration of the 
processes constituting its life. In actual fact we never lose sight 
of or ignore this solid integrity of the mind's life. What I wish 
to urge is that we have no ground for losing sight of it in the 
interests of theory, but every ground for insisting on it and 
recurring to it, if we are to assign each operation of mind its 
appropriate place in the context of experience. The singleness 
of mind is present and omnipresent in all its operations ; the 
slightest variation of conscious life, be it even a sensation, 
reverberates throughout its whole being, modifying and sustain- 
ing its course of development and relation to its world. Its unity 
is manifested most prominently, though not exclusively, in the 
concentration of its energy, now in one specific direction, now in 
another, a concentration which takes, amongst other ways, the 
form of what we call attention. With its singleness of being it 
faces the real world around it, and forces itself into living 
association with other beings, and by so doing grows to the 
fullness of its mental stature. The surrounding world of beings 
evokes its energy of self-maintenance and self-fulfilment. It 
does not exist for them nor they for it ; they all co-exist, so far 
as they, too, have individuality, as single realities in a world of 


realj. It measures their individuality by its own, and, as certain 
philosophers maintain, arranges the reality of individuals as 
a scale of beings occupying different degrees of reality. Doubt- 
less other real beings, especially if conscious, do the same, and 
also measure and scale up the real beings different from them- 
selves. The course of the mind's development may fairly be 
described, relatively to its initial starting-point in time and place, 
as a process of discovery, a discovery of what its own nature 
contains, and, as the correlate of this, a discovery of the signi- 
ficance of the other beings in relation to which it lives and moves 
and has its own being. This process of discovery is what we 
call experience in its most general sense. Experience is thus 
always double-sided ; we grow into our world, our world becomes 
articulate in its detailed reality as we proceed. We do not make 
the reality of other things any more than we make our own ; we 
find and become conscious of both in fulfilling the energy of our 
own mind. We do not break down the distinction between our 
reality and that of other beings as we proceed ; we establish both 
by the process of becoming aware of both. Neither gives way 
to the other, neither strictly depends on the other ] they are 
inter-dependent. We never face other beings with one of the 
functions of our mind. We face other reality with our whole 
mind, and we estimate it in terms of our whole nature, from the 
first stage to the last in the career of our experience. And one 
being differs from another according to the call it makes on our 
whole being, and the response our whole being makes to it. 

In the course of our development, and as the result of an 
indefinite variety of activities conscious and sub-conscious, 
specific functions of the mind arise and assume a definite 
place in the economy of our mental life : perception, memory, 
imagination, emotion, conscious striving. We come to be dis- 
tinctly aware of them, and to rely on them and operate with 
them. Some emerge into clearness early, some later in our 
mental history. Instead of the first stage of quasi-un- 
differentiated mental unity, we have later a complex and 
articulate arrangement of mental functions in and through 
which the mind operates. These arise through the successive 
and successful efforts of the mind to retain its hold on its 


world, and its place in it ; and so to fulfil its being, i Each and 
all have reference to reality in some form or other, and no one 

On this interpretation, the pursuit and the attainment of 
articulately conceived systematic truth by the intellect is a 
single, a distinctive, but not the exclusive, and not necessarily 
the highest, channel through which the individual mind fulfils 
its proper nature. This deliberate search for intellectual truth, 
moreover, is controlled by the same fundamental conditions as 
guide and determine the mind's activity in every other essential 
direction. In each and all the concrete individual is endeavour- 
ing at once to fulfil its being to the uttermost, and to become 
consciously alive to the world of beings which co-exist with 
itself; and these two processes are but aspects of its self- 
maintenance. 1 No one direction of the mind's life can be a 
substitute for, or supersede even in importance, another, any 
more than in a higher organism one organ can really take the 
place of another organ. Perception does not make sensation 
any the less necessary; both are qualitatively distinct from 
memory and from judgment, as these are from each other ; 
while, again, scientific, or systematic, knowledge is as different 
a level of mental energy from all of those mentioned as it is 
from the activity of the moral life, of art, or of religion. By each 
of these, and by the different degrees of each kind of activity, 
the individual mind attains a different level of being, acts and 
reacts upon its world in a new way, fulfils a distinct mode of its 
life, and thereby establishes its own existence, in the face of a 
ceaselessly varying realm of objects. 

No one of the directions assumed by the energy of the 
human mind is less or more of a purely human activity than 
another : and none carries the human mind beyond the ambit 
of its own sphere of existence, since all subserve the fulfilment 
of its being as a living individuality. If religion and art, if 

1 In that sense scientific knowledge is certainly "instrumental," as it has been 
held : a means, that is to say, to self-fulfilment. It is obviously not merely instru- 
mental in the interests of " practice " ; for practice itself is in the same way instru- 
mental to the self-fulfilment of the individual mind. Both, in short, are directly 
instrumental to complete individuality, and only indirectly to each other. So of art, 
morality, and religion. 


morality ar\d technical adaptation to nature, are essentially 
modes of human life, forms of its expression, science and the 
pursuit of intellectual truth are equally so, and no more than 
particu'ar manifestations of the mental energy of human beings 
or rather of a restricted number of individuals. And, if memory, 
perception, and imagination are but ways by which we apprehend 
the real so as to conserve the stability and unity of our individual 
minds, conceptual activity, judgment and inference perform a 
similar function in precisely the same interest. 

This view of human experience in general and of knowledge 
in particular is what seems best described as Anthropomorphism. 
The term is sometimes applied in a narrow sense, to refer to 
certain ways of ascribing literally to non-human kinds of reality 
qualities which are exclusively human. 1 

Properly understood, however, this is only a subordinate 
meaning of the term. In essence it means simply the point of 
view of humanity at its best, the way in which a human life, 
within the peculiar limitations and specific conditions of its 
existence, consciously arranges its world in terms of its own 
perspective, and in so doing at once fulfils its own nature and 
adjusts itself to the indefinitely complex realm of beings with 
which it finds its existence associated. Every type of being in 
the real world is constituted by its own peculiar laws, and 
maintains itself in terms of these laws. Man has a type of his 
own, and secures his place by fulfilling the laws of his special 
form of being, whether those laws are physical, moral, aesthetic, 

1 This is often described as a peculiar tendency of the primitive mind : but it is 
by no means confined to the primitive intelligence. The difference between the 
uncultivated and the cultivated mind does not consist in the former being anthro- 
pomorphic in the narrow sense, while the latter eschews anthropomorphism. Both 
may be anthropomorphic in the same sense ; the difference between the two consisting 
in the sort of human qualities ascribed to non-human objects. Thus, the primitive 
mind will ascribe human emotions anger, pleasure, etc. to external beings, 
whether natural or non-natural ; the maturer mind will ascribe human ideas 
conceptions, volitions to non-human beings. Scientists and philosophers alike 
show this tendency. Why the primitive attitude should be rejected with contempt, 
and the attitude of the more developed mind treated with profound respect, is not 
evident, except to those who prefer to ascribe to non-human realities human thoughts 
rather than human emotions, and who imagine that a later generation must necessarily 
be wiser than the earlier. 


or intellectual matters not; the issue of his activity is f the 
maintenance of his individual being by the fulfilment of his type 
of existence. 

We are not concerned here to show how this conception 
enables us to interpret the significance of all the modes of this 
life. We are more especially interested in indicating its bearing 
on the problem of knowledge. 

We shall not deal with all the forms of knowledge, but only 
with those which present the greatest difficulty scientific 
procedure through conception, judgment and inference, by which 
intellectual truth in the usual sense is obtained. In the case, 
e.g., of sensation and perception, which are also channels of 
knowledge, it is fairly easy to show that these functions of the 
individual mind are rooted in the peculiar psycho-physical 
conditions of human individuality, and are constituted by the 
peculiar laws of man's specific organisation. The essentially 
human character of knowledge at these levels of man's life may 
be considered beyond dispute. The same is true of memory or, 
again, the imaginative grasp of ideals of knowledge. Let us 
therefore confine attention to the harder case of conceptual 
activity, and the higher intellectual " truth," with which indeed 
most theories of knowledge exclusively deal, and in reference to 
which the claim that truth is " transcendent," " objective," 
" independent/ 1 is currently made. 


There is nothing magical in the form or the procedure of 
intellectual activity that we should be disposed to credit it with 
the power to carry us beyond the conditions or limitations of the 
human mind. The conceptions with which mature intellectual 
activity, e.g. science, deals, are the outcome of and display the 
abstract character possessed by mere intellect as a specialised 
function of mind. They are literally the expression of this 
abstract function. The intellect does not find them ready made 
and waiting to be apprehended or picked up by the intellect. 
Nor are they by chance the convenient material suitable to be 


handled by {he abstract activity of the intellect. We often treat 
them in this way, it is true. But that is because reflection upon 
the whole procedure of the intellect is an after-thought ; and, 
when undertaken, we seem to have a great variety of conceptions 
with fixed characters on the one hand, and a uniform power 
which deals with them on the other. What more natural than 
that in such circumstances we should fancy the conceptions to be 
the ready-made material offered to or fortunately adapted to the 
operation of an abstract intellect ? But, in fact, the intellect is 
in nature and origin prior to the conceptions with which it deals. 
These are one and all created by it in the course of its effort to 
grasp the world in the interests of the unity of the mind. The 
deliberate aim of the intellectual process is to bring to bear on 
the variety of objects confronting the mind the all-pervading 
unity of the mind's life, or, as we sometimes put it, to bring the 
variety of objects lender the general unity of the mind. This is 
one of the ways in which, as we find, the mind maintains its 
integrity in the face of the world of beings in relation to which 
it stands. The unity of the mind is the single constant and 
uniform principle throughout all its experience. The mind may 
only be aware of it in a vague way at first, or it may later assume 
a distinctive being of its own and be looked upon as an ideal 
centre of reference. But in all cases intellectual activity con- 
sists in bringing this unity as such into conscious connection 
with the varied world of objects in the midst of which the mind 

The plurality of conceptions devised for this end are the out- 
come of its efforts in this direction. They have the generality 
of the single unity which they seek to carry out, but also some- 
thing of the concreteness of the actual objects with which the 
mind as a concrete individuality is concerned. They are thus, 
in a manner, intermediate between the mere unity of the mind, 
and the complex diversity of things. But they never leave the 
region of abstraction, since the intellect has only to do with 
satisfying the mind's general principle of unity. The intellect 
thus always stops short at the abstract conception, not because it 
might go further if it chose, but because its function is limited 
by this purpose from the first. Hence, we find, on the one hand, 


that the conception never professes to give us the full particularity 
of the concrete object. On the other hand, the intellect en- 
deavours to connect the conceptions as conceptions with one 
another ; for the same demand for unity, which starts the mind's 
search for conceptions, instigates the mind to unite the con- 
ceptions themselves when they are found. It does this through 
the intellectual processes of inference, of systcmatisation, or 
again of establishing a hierarchy of conceptions, and perhaps in 
other ways. 

The abstractness of the conceptions devised by the intellect, 
and the connection of these with one another, do not furnish any 
ground for holding that we go beyond the mere purposes of the 
finite human mind in intellectual activity. The intellect does not 
de-anthropomorphise the human mind. Indeed there seems a 
transparent paradox in maintaining that a function which is less 
than the whole mind can carry us beyond the mind altogether. 
This is so evident from the forms assumed by the language of 
men, and from the variation in the range of conceptual span, as I 
may call it, from individual to individual, that it would hardly 
require to be emphasised were it not for the mysterious, almost 
magical, significance attached by some minds, scientific and 
philosophical alike, to the mere quality of abstraction cha- 
racteristic of the conceptions of the intellect. 

What is true of their abstractness is equally true of their 
quality of universality and objectivity. Their universality is 
ultimately derivable from and is determined by the extent 
to which they reflect the single unity of the individual mind 
exercising the function of intellect on its own behalf. This unity 
remains the same throughout all the life of mind, and if a con- 
ception can be devised in which the conciousness of this unity is 
maintained throughout all change in the content of the object 
grasped by the conception, that conception assumes the character 
of being universal. The assumption is that the conception will 
remain what it is as long as the unity of the mind subsists, and 
that means always. Social intercourse helps to confirm this 
quality by bringing out that the conception in question reflects 
the unity of life not merely of one individual mind but of a 
number, large or small, of other minds equally individual in their 


life. 1 ^ The e*cact number of individuals holding such intercourse 
is irrelevant to the universality : two may be sufficient for certain 
kinds of conceptions ; a hundred will strengthen the claim to 
universality in other cases. But social intercourse does no more 
in any case than confirm or emphasise the universality : it cannot 
create the universality in default of the operation of the individual 
minds who affirm it. 2 The universality may be so indubitably a 
quality of the conceptions in certain cases that we find it said, for 
example, that certain conceptions hold "for all mankind," are 
confirmed by the "universal experience of humanity," are valid 
" for consciousness in general." Such expressions are obviously 
mere hyperbole ; no one imagines that all mankind are really 
aware of these conceptions ; no one has ever tested all the 
individuals in humanity to see if each and every one holds the 
conceptions in question. All that is really meant is that the 
conceptions so described are such that they seem bound up with 
the very unity of the individual mind if it is to maintain itself at all. 
When conceptions have this quality, it is easy to see how they 
may come to be considered outside the mind altogether or in- 
dependent of the individual mind, and hence to give rise to the 
illusion that intellectual activity working with these conceptions 
carries us outside the limits of human mentality. A conception 
which is held to be true at all times and for all seems to have a 
being of its own whether any individual holds it explicitly or not : 
just as we are apt to suppose that a social institution which 
remains a permanent part of the life of a society has a being of 
its own independently of the individuals who successively or 
periodically embody its purpose and then pass away. Such a 
view is a useful method of conveying vividly the significance of 
the quality of universality : as a statement of actual fact it is a 
transparent absurdity. For it takes the quality of universality 
which is derived from the more ultimate fact of the unity of an 

1 Hence the reciprocal relations of social intercourse "and universality of thoughts : 
social intercourse secures, to some extent, the ratio cognoscenti of universality of 
thoughts, the latter being, to a like extent, the ratio esscndi of social life. 

2 In point of fact, the highest forms of intellectual universality are not held to be 
dependent for their worth on social intercourse. Indeed, socialisation of ideas is in 
inverse ratio to their intellectual universality and abstraction. 


individual mind to be a reason for separating ;the conception 
from the individual mind altogether. Both the conception and 
its quality as universal have the same source in the individual 
mind, and have neither being nor life apart from it. As well 
might a child disown all parentage and all continuity with its 
past when it has come to maturity, after the manner of the high 
priests of Israel who claimed to have neither father nor mother 
when once they had devoted themselves to the service of Jehovah 
in the Temple. 

In the same way the quality of " objectivity " possessed by 
conceptions can be shown to have its source in the operations of 
the individual human mind. Conceptions are objective in the 
sense, and only in the sense, that they express the mind's sense 
of unity in dealing with the objects confronting it. It is the 
function of thought, as we have said, to keep the mind's sense 
of unity secure in the face of the variety of the world of objects. 
When this purpose is successfully fulfilled, the conceptions do 
not change, any more than the unity of the mind changes. The 
realm of objects is from the first as real and enduring as the being 
of the individual mind. Our intellectual knowledge does not 
alter the nature of things, and things are themselves quite 
indifferent to our intellectual operations. But, once concep- 
tions are obtained, it is a convenient and perhaps a natural 
form of metonymy to ascribe to conceptions the quality of the 
objective world with which they deal, or again to ascribe to 
objects themselves the conceptions which the intellect has devised 
to enable the mind to handle the world of objects. This is 
convenient to emphasise the significance of the result obtained 
by intellectual activity, viz., that the mind has secured its unity in 
the midst of the real world ; it is only objectionable if taken as 
literal fact. We then disturb the whole situation ; we regard 
the conceptions as themselves objects, and thus independent of 
the mind as objects in fact are. This is the nai've attitude of the 
recent revival of mediaeval realism. It is not putting the position 
too strongly to say that if conceptions were really objects they 
would not be objective at all ; for they would not be mental 
functions, which they are ; they would no longer refer to objects^ 
they would be the objects themselves. But it is in their reference 


to the objects that their objectivity consists. It is the reaction 
upon our thought of the language in which conceptions are 
clothed, coupled with inadequate analysis of the situation, which 
has led many minds, and most of us at one time or another, 
to treat the objectivity characteristic of conceptions as equivalent 
to the summary identification of conceptions with the objects. 

It is sometimes held that the successful corroboration by the 
objective world of certain conceptual processes and results is an 
unanswerable argument in favour of the trans-human quality 
ascribed to thought. If we can predict the course of nature with 
invariable accuracy, surely, it is said, our thoughts cannot be 
merely our own as human beings ; they must be an expression 
for the nature of independent things themselves. This is a 
familiar proposition, and the illustrations usually given are drawn 
from stellar and planetary mechanics and applied physics or, 
again, chemistry, sometimes also from pure mathematics. 

Setting aside the fact that the proposition does not hold of 
conceptions in all sciences, and setting aside also the fact that 
the success means no more in some cases than that scientists 
have agreed mainly as the result of social intercourse, there is 
even in the most approved cases of such success nothing to 
justify the assertion that thought liberates us from the limits of 
the human individual mind. What it really implies is that our 
whole mind is so constituted as to be an integral component of 
the world of things with which its being is associated. Our 
mind, as a whole, is interwoven with the very texture of the real 
world, is fitted, so to say, to the environment of the rest of reality ; 
and if it but fulfils, in its own order and according to its own 
conditions, the laws of its own being, the issue will confirm and 
establish this congruence with the world. It is not that the 
intellect and the intellect alone gives us the true nature of 
the independent world of things ; but that the individual mind 
is from the start and all through its history a substantive con- 
stituent of the real. Its one purpose is to fulfil itself, and its 
detailed operations contribute to this one end. The so-called 
success of the intellectual process in particular corroborates this 
primordial character of the life of mind. It is not, therefore, 
that the intellect alone finds the whole truth about the world, 


but that our mind as a whole enables the intellect to brjng out 
the essential congruence between the mind and the real. It is 
the mind working with its whole energy through the channel 
of intellectual activity which makes possible the successful 
operations of the intellect in dealing with the world. The 
intellect merely brings out explicitly in its own way what was 
implicit all the while the congruence of the whole mind with the 
real in the midst of which it lives and moves and has its being. 1 

1 To begin with, this congruence is in a sense a postulate, as we so often say. 
But it is not a postulate for the mind, it is only a postulate for the specific operation 
of the intellect. The mind, as a whole, no more doubts or questions or even 
"assumes" that it has a place amongst real beings, than trees or birds ; and it no 
more "postulates" its congruence with other real beings than it postulates their 
congruence with itself. A postulate is only made by a partial function in an interest 
going beyond itself; it always implies an end beyond itself which is presupposed 
before it sets out to confirm the reality of the end. The mind has no end beyond 
itself that it can seek ; it seeks simply to fulfil itself. But a specialised function like 
the intellect, an abstraction from the whole life of mind, must make the assumption 
that, in spite of being an abstraction, it will yet be able to attain in its own way and 
to express the fundamental nature of the life of mind which it partially embodies. 
The success of its procedure confirms openly the assumption it has made at the out- 
set, and explicitly reinstates in a special way the fundamental character of the mind's 
life. Such a confirmation is often regarded as a kind of wonder, or surprise, as if 
the mind should be, as it were, grateful to the intellect for having clone so much on 
the mind's behalf. But the whole process is such an obvious circle that there is no 
more place for wonder or surprise than in the resolution of a child's puzzle. The 
intellect is in the control of the mind all the while, and is brought back to its starting 
point, as it must be, when its operation is completed, for the starting point is its 
guiding assumption throughout all its procedure, directing and limiting its course of 
operation. This is seen without difficulty, if we merely note that the intellect is 
always selective in its operation, a selection which is guided by an end in relation to 
which the selection is made. When we say, therefore, that the intellect grasps the 
nature of the real, we should observe that this is at best only a partial statement 
even of the operation of the intellect. The successful result of the operation of the 
intellect has always a double-sided significance ; it conveys what the real is in 
relation to the mind, as interpreted by intellect, it also conveys what the mind is in 
relation to the real world. It must do both at once, because it is a manifestation of 
the life of mind as one real being amongst other real beings. It is because we so 
often ignore the one side of this result, and lay exclusive emphasis on the grasp of 
the independent real object achieved by the intellect, that we treat the intellect as a 
revelation of the independent object, and the truth obtained as consequently in- 
dependent of our own minds. Such a one-sided view is sure to distort the actual 
situation, for it leads us to ignore the vital connection of the intellect with the whole 
life of mind. If we could imagine a flower thinking about the botanist as the 
botanist thinks about the flower, we might have similarly one-sided misinterpreta- 
tions of the significance of the results arrived at by the plant intelligence. The 



So far we have considered the claims of the intellect to 
transcend human limitations by an analysis of the conceptual 
as such and at its best. The same result is even more evident 
when we bear in mind that the creation or discovery of the 
conceptions and their connections, by which the intellect appre- 
hends the world, always involves an effort of mind, experiment, 
trial, and error. The conceptions and conceptual connections 
are not given to the intellect ready made ; they are deliberately 
designed, and are only found after a severe intellectual struggle, 
in the course of which they are formed and reformed, proposed 
and rejected. The history of science and of philosophy is strewn 
with the wrecks of expeditions in the seas of thought. All 
conceptions are at the start nothing more than tentative efforts 
of the mind to establish a unity amongst things. The progress 
of science finds its growing point in suggested hypotheses. No 
one would dream of regarding the embryonic stages of true 
knowledge as other than phases in the life of the human mind. 
How then can any one maintain, when these stages have 
arrived at a point in their development which satisfies the mind, 
produces general acceptance, and enables it to maintain itself in 
the relation to its world, that suddenly the thoughts thus 
secured cease altogether to be our own and become non-human 
or impersonal in character? If tentative hypotheses do not 
give us the very "nature of things, 11 why should a successful 
hypothesis do so ? 

plant's thoughts would surely be a mere manifestation of its life, however accurately 
in its process it succeeded in diagnosing the being of the botanist ; and its thoughts 
would emphatically not be those of the botanist, no matter how accurate they were 
to the plant itself. And so generally ; if other orders of beings, some of which 
palpably have intelligence, were to think about their world, the things with which 
they are confronted, their thoughts would, in every case, be the expression of their 
own specific intelligence, and would remain constant for them because accurately 
embodying the laws of their own being. It is hardly imaginable that the thoughts of 
all the different orders of beings would be the same, or that the "nature of things" 
would be completely revealed by each type of thought. In a word, Xenophanes* 
criticism of the popular religious views of his time has but to be generalised to see 
the inadmissibility of attributing to the specific thoughts of human intelligence a 
capacity to convey the nature of things in a manner which, however successful, 
implies that because thought is true it is therefore impersonal. 


We can often go a long way with an inaccurate hypothesis. 
We can prophesy by it, to a certain extent, and it bears this test 
of success. Nevertheless we are led to give it up, and to describe 
it as merely a human conjecture. Since it is by a continuation 
of the same activity of the mind that an inaccurate becomes an 
accurate hypothesis, it is surely impossible to dehumanise the 
hypothesis once it becomes finally established. Is the only 
quality of thought which remains human to be the capacity to 
make mistakes ? And shall we deny ourselves the right to call 
true thought human just because it is true ? This seems neither 
justified nor intelligible. 

But when we look at the process of thought as it actually 
takes place, we find that intellectual activity is never in fact 
purely intellectual activity at all. We never think in an 
abstract medium of pure intellect, not even in the most abstract 
of all sciences. We start from and constantly draw upon the 
resources and deliverances of our perceptual experience. We 
repeatedly substantiate our thinking by linking its conclusions 
with perceptual facts, and sometimes we call this procedure 
(paradoxical as it sounds) the verification of our thoughts. And 
we invariably make use of the medium of perceptual experience 
to give body, shape, and form to the whole process of thinking ; 
for there is no continuous thinking possible without written 
or spoken language, which belongs wholly to the region of 
perceptual experience. Now perception is not merely inseparable 
from our specifically human mind ; it is not even separable from 
our peculiarly constituted nervous system. When we proceed to 
think about things, the operation of thinking is instigated in 
the first instance by the mode in which things are perceived. 
Perception sets the task, and furnishes the character which the 
things possess about which we think. No thinking can dispense 
with its own facts or leave the facts behind. And since these 
are constituted by the special nature of human perception, our 
thinking is held captive by, and is beyond a 1 ! hope of escape 
from, the limits of the human mind. This point has been so 
often emphasised, that it requires no more than a passing remark. 
What is so curious is that the use of language in which 
to convey thoughts should ever have created the illusion 


that our thought can transcend the human mind. It seems to 
be supposed because language is " outside," or a symbol, and the 
form of the symbol is irrelevant, that therefore thought is 
independent of all human conditions. But it is precisely the 
symbol which compels thought to keep in touch with the actual 
human mind, which always lives as a concrete whole ; or con- 
versely, it is precisely because thought cannot lose touch with 
the concrete mind that it must use a symbol. The symbol, be 
it ever so slight, e.g. a mere sign, holds thought in chains to the 
conditions and laws of perception, without which the mind would 
lose its living contact with its actual world. The insignificance, 
the very perceptual abstractness of the symbol, just corresponds 
to the abstractness of the conceptual activity. Indeed, only such 
a symbol would be adequate to the quality of the conception. 
Hence it is that the more abstract the conceptual activity, the 
more the language used becomes a mere character or sign : 
numbers, e.g., are conveyed by mere lines in space, straight or 
curved or otherwise arranged. And the less abstract the concep- 
tion, the more does the symbol conveying it have a greater per- 
ceptual significance, sometimes even appealing to different senses. 

Again, it is important to note that contradiction, which is 
so characteristic of thought, is the direct consequence of the 
abstract nature of its procedure as a specialised operation of 
mind, and confirms the essentially human quality of its process 
and its results. 

Contradiction has always been the main source of uneasiness 
in the intellectual conscience, goading its waking life with 
the remorse of doubt, and troubling the dreams of the most 
accomplished builder of systems. Some have treated it as a 
kind of thorn in the flesh, others have used it to make a crown 
of thorns for the brow of intellectual freedom. And indeed 
the fact of contradiction is at once the puzzle and the paradox 
of intellectual activity : a puzzle because it is difficult to see 
why the intellect should ever contradict itself: a paradox 
because the creation of a contradiction is the work of thought 
as much as the resolution of it. No other phase of mental 
life is subject to this condition. Perception, emotion, volition, 
imagination, memory, have no share in it. Their deliverances 


are final for the mind. If these deliverances re found to 
contain contradictions it is not for the functions themselves that 
the contradiction exists, but for the intellect which reviews or 
criticises their results. So close is contradiction bound up with 
intellectual activity that a certain familiar form of speculation 
regards contradiction as the life-principle of thought itself and 
the clue to its development of the nature of truth. Contra- 
diction, it is said, e.g. by Mr.JBradley, arises when a conception 
is pushed to the end of its meaning. And every conception, it 
is Jheld, will prove contradictory if it is pushed to its extreme 
point. Hence thought activity essentially tends to contradiction. 
Such a contention at once creates suspicion and distrust, for 
surely the initial mistake may lie just in pushing the conception 
too far. Why go to extremes in thinking any more than in any 
other form of experience ? By hypothesis we are not bound to 
do so, for, if thought be not pressed to the breaking point, it will 
not contradict, and will still be thought. Thus, in making 
contradiction the essence of thought, we have no right to console 
ourselves with the reflection that we are making a virtue of a 
necessity, for we are really making a virtue of a blunder. And 
the things about which we reflect are transparently indifferent to 
the contradictions into which we fall when we think about them ; 
they remain in solid and stolid security, maintaining their full 
reality, regardless of the conceptual tangle into which our minds 
may have fallen. Indeed it is partly because they maintain 
their concrete integrity that our minds are checked in the course 
of their intellectual procedure. 

The source of contradiction is to be traced to the general 
character of intellectual activity. It arises from the demand for 
complete mental unity on the one hand, and, on the other, from 
the tentative selective efforts of the intellect to meet this demand 
through a variety of conceptions. The unity of the mind is, as 
we have seen, the presupposition and the consummation of 
intellectual activity ; and without its presence in the process of 
the intellect no contradiction would arise. Variety of conception 
there must be, since a plurality of real things has to be unified. 
When the unity of the mind is not satisfied by a particular con- 
ception or a connection of conceptions, contradiction appears. It 


is thus always a transitional characteristic of intellectual procedure, 
and, as we find, it varies in kind from individual to individual, 
and in degree according to the nature of the conception involved. 
Thus, what seems contradictory to one mind is not always con- 
tradictory to another, as we see constantly verified in the course 
of debate, especially on fundamental questions. And some con- 
ceptions are found to be partially contradictory, others wholly 
so, by the same mind. The mental grasp of one individual 
differs from another, and one individual thus neither feels nor sees 
a contradiction, i.e. his mind's unity is satisfied, in a relation 
of conceptions which seems to another riddled with contradiction, 
i.e. giving no mental security. When we use such expressions 
as a " self-contradictory conception," or connection of conceptions, 
and, again, such terms as " absolutely contradictory," " inherently 
contradictory," and the like, what we mean is that, with the best 
intellectual effort which we and others, who agree with us, can 
make, no sense of mental unity can be arrived at by the con- 
ceptions in question. In a word, contradiction is nothing more 
than the condition in which the intellect fails to satisfy the 
mind's demand for complete unity in the special case of the con- 
ceptions or connection of conceptions created by the activity of 
the intellect. Contradictions are thus, in this sense, always 
created by the intellect itself, as Kant pointed out in the case 
of one form of intellectual activity in particular ; and it is just 
because they are so created that the intellect can always remove 
them, either by retracing its steps or by advancing further. 
Hence it is useless to describe conceptions, or thoughts in general, 
as inherently contradictory. Conceptions have no being except as 
expressions of intellectual activity, and thought removes contra- 
dictions, as well as gives rise to them. But for the tentative, 
selective, piecemeal procedure of thinking, i.e. its human character, 
contradiction would not arise at all. It is neither a virtue of 
thought nor a disease ; it is in the long run due to the self- 
criticism by the mind of its own thought, and reveals the negative 
control exercised by the mind over the fundamentally abstract 
nature of the intellectual activity which seeks to work in isolation 
from the rest of the life of mind. 1 

* It only differs in form and not as a mental operation from the check exerted by 



One of the most familiar admissions made regarding intellectual 
activity is that it is " unable to explain everything," that " it has 
its limits." And by this is meant not that the individual mind 
making the admission is incapable of advancing further, but that 
the intellect itself will not allow the mind to go beyond a 
certain point in dealing with the real world. This is not dis- 
covered and stated simply as a practical experience ; we find it 
time after time erected into a general or philosophical tenet. 
We have but to recall the long-standing contrast and quarrel 
between faith and intellect in Western thought, the sceptical 
criticism of the intellect by Hume, the theory of Kant, and, more 
recently, the vigorous re-assertion of the same doctrine by Mr. 
Bradley, to find ample proof of the existence of this conviction. 
It is a remarkable confirmation of the same contention that 
those who either do not admit it or who seem to maintain the 
self-sufficiency of thought, do so only by blending thought with 
other and consciously different functions of the life of the mind. 
Thus Spinoza, in spite of his intentional and initial pure in- 
tellectualism, reaches true reality not by the intellect alone but by 
intellectual love. Hegel at once openly confesses the impotency 
of conceptual procedure to deal with the teeming detail of nature 
and history, and yet seeks by a kind of tour de force to establish 
a quasi-logical connection between thought at its highest and 
nature in general, an attempt which acquires whatever value it 
has from a covert combination of intellectual activity with the 
practical or creative activity of the human mind. In a work of 
a more recent date we find a thinker of like tendencies (Mr. 
Bosariquet) making the significant remark, apparently without 
any consciousness of its far-reaching importance for his whole 
view of thought, that " it is the strict and fundamental truth that 

the solid integrity of the mind over all the specialised functions of its life. The 
analogue of contradiction in the sphere of feeling is the sense of pain arising from a 
misdirected course pursued by the mind in its uniform career towards satisfaction or 
fulfilment ; while again in the case of striving or volition we similarly find the sense 
of failure or defeat arising from the pursuit of an end futile in itself or hostile to the 
supreme puipose of mental life a sense of failure which appears in such different 
forms as mistaken effort or remorse of conscience. 


love is the mainspring of logic." These examples are quoted 
merely to give an indirect proof of the contention put forward 
explicitly by the other thinkers above referred to. 

Such a position was for long a source of grave trouble to 
myself; for I could neither admit the contention that the 
intellect cannot explain everything nor accept the philosophical 
theories put forward on its behalf, nor find complete satisfaction 
in the way of thought adopted by those who maintained or sought 
to maintain the opposite view. It seemed impossible to under- 
stand how the intellect could at once be taken as the only avenue 
to the intelligible, i.e. mentally satisfying, apprehension of the 
real, and yet to hold that it was compelled to leave over a 
residuum of the real as beyond its grasp. The difficulty was 
only increased by recognising that it seemed to be by the 
intellect itself that this limitation of its function was discovered 
and formulated. How could the intellect maintain or admit its 
own insolvency and yet try to carry on its proper business ? 
When, however, one observes that the intellect is from the first 
and in principle a mental operation consciously distinguished 
from, and even set apart by the mind itself in contrast to, the 
other functions of the mind's life (more particularly the functions 
of feeling and striving), the difficulty in question disappears. For 
then it follows at once that it cannot be expected to get the 
whole of the real world into its net, since it starts by being only 
a partial expression of the full reality of the mind's life. 1 It 
does not reveal the whole nature of mind, and therefore the 
mind cannot be wholly satisfied with its deliverances, however 
rich and complete in their own order these deliverances of the 
intellect may be. The mind has other functions and other ways 
of approaching the real world, and no intellectual activity can 
be a substitute for these. 2 It is thus not because the intellect is 
incompetent to do its own work that it fails ; it is because the 

1 The limitation of thought in its relation to the real rests on, and is due to, the 
initial separation of thought from other functions of the mind. 

2 The real makes an appeal to the emotions of the mind as well as to thought, to 
the will as well as to the emotions. It is this sphere of the real, which thought can 
neither touch nor think away, which hars the process of thought and limits its range 
of operation. It is, indeed, a residuum for thought, but it is an integral part of the 
nature of the real for mind in its concrete fullness. ("See chap. v. pp. 133-171.) 


mind in its entirety cannot be satisfied in its relation to reality 
by the exercise of only one of its own functions. The mind is 
aware that the real contains more than the intellect can supply 
because the mind is related to the real through all its functions, 
and finds the real responding and co-responding to the other 
demands made upon it by the mind. The limitation of the 
range of the intellect does not arise because the intellect falls 
into contradiction when it tries too much, as Kant maintained, 
nor because thought is relational, as Bradley puts it. It seems 
absurd to condemn thought for trying to do too much, since it 
can never exercise its activity too far. The more it does in fact 
the better the result intellectually. And the intellect can never 
trespass beyond the sphere of intellect. It seems equally 
mistaken to condemn thought because it is relational, if it 
cannot but be relational. The restricted range of the activity 
of thought is determined not by thought itself, but by the more 
concrete reality of the mind's whole life. The fulfilment of 
this can alone bring satisfaction ; and while the intellect can 
make its own contribution to this satisfaction, the whole mind 
can never find that contribution sufficient for all its needs. 
Whatever truth the intellect attains, therefore, it must always 
be less than what meets the mind's requirements. If we 
take the full satisfaction of the mind to be the only adequate 
expression for the " whole truth " regarding the mind's conscious 
relation to its world, then the special truth achieved by the 
intellect can never be the " whole truth " required. And if the 
" intelligibility " of the world is only reached when the mind is 
fully satisfied, then intelligibility involves something more than 
the results, however great, of intellectual activity. The limita- 
tion of thought is thus not a defect of the intellect, but merely 
a specialisation of the life of the mind. Because it is so limited 
by and for human ends, its process and its results have all the 
more a human value. They can never be less than mentally 
satisfying, and they can never be more than this ; and thus they 
can never overthrow nor imperil the major ends that make for 
and secure human satisfaction. 1 

1 It is a mistake in principle to describe this result as the failure of thought to 
grasp the real ; and misleading to employ such an expression as that of Lotze, 



The mind is always instinctively alive to the limited possi- 
bilities of satisfaction to be achieved through thinking, and seeks 
through other and distinctive channels to supplement the in- 
adequacy of thought to supply entire satisfaction. It approaches 
the real by the avenue of emotion as well as by that of volition, 
and endeavours to secure in its relation to the real the highest 
satisfaction that these functions alone can supply. The con- 
centration of the integrity of its life into these channels constitutes 
the search of beauty on the one hand and goodness on the other. 
Just as the highest fulfilment of its life through the function of 
thought brings what we call (intellectual) truth, so the consumma- 
tion of the mind's possibilities of emotion issues in the realisation 
of beauty, and the achievement of the work of volition is the 
attainment of goodness. The conventional difference of the 
terms employed to describe the main avenues of the self-fulfil- 
ment of the mind tends to obscure their essential connection 
with one another. They are connected in their source and 
connected in their final purpose. They emanate from the one 
integral life of mind seeking at all costs and by all its operations 
to maintain itself by developing its powers to meet the call of 
the real world. On the other hand, each of them finds its 
ultimate goal in the contribution it makes to the full satisfaction of 

that "reality is richer than thought." Thought does not fail of its own purpose, nor 
does it fail to contribute its own meed of satisfaction to the mind. In the face of 
the extraordinary achievements of scientific procedure, and, we may say, also of 
practical reflection, it seems a travesty of the facts to speak of the failure of 
thought. Moreover, Ithe failure of thought would, in the long run, mean the failure 
of the mind to be itself or to attain its end ; and it is difficult to attach any meaning 
to that expression, since the mind cannot bring about its own failuie, and no other 
reality is in a position to perform that office on its behalf. It is again misleading to 
say that " reality is richer" than thought: for thought always enriches reality by 
lighting up for mind the meaning of things. The real would be infinitely poorer for 
the absence of thought. And, indeed (if it be possible at all to compare thoughts 
and things in this way), thought, even as thought, is much more important and more 
valuable for mind than many forms of the real. Just as the greatest criminal is a 
higher being than a beast of prey, so the poorest thought of a mind is a finer product 
of creation than the immeasurable desert spaces of the earth. What such a 
questionable expression means is not strictly that reality is richer than thought but 
that the mind is richer in its life than the processes of thought alone. 


the whole mind's life ; and to this they are subordinate, anfl by 
this the limit, the range of operation of each, is determined. 
Hence if we emphasise their community of interest and purpose, 
we may quite correctly regard them as identical ; and this is often 
done even by those who have a specialised concern for the 
pursuit of only one of them. The poet says, " Beauty is truth, 
truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth and all ye need 
to know." The philosopher (Mr. Bradley), similarly says that 
in his maturer years he finds himself "taking more and more 
as literal fact what I used in my youth to admire and love as 
poetry/' When, however, we do not emphasise this community 
of aim, and only then, we can regard these avenues towards 
mental satisfaction as different, each pursuing its own course in 
terms of its own laws and conditions. 1 Each is pursued in 
abstraction from the others, because only by so doing can the 
finite mind concentrate its energies. It concentrates in order to 
achieve ; and to get the utmost in one direction it must, at least 
temporarily, isolate one channel from the others. We find this 
in the case of thought ; it holds equally in the case of emotion 
and of volition. Each is abstract by itself, but one abstraction 
is as much justified and as inevitable as the other. Were it not 
for the abstraction of thought, we may say, the other abstractions 
would not be made or required. If the one abstract activity 
can accomplish its end, so can the others. The attainment of 
the utmost that emotion and volition can supply is necessary to 
balance the utmost which thought can achieve. And when the 
mind is in possession of the resources and accomplishments of 
all of them, it reaches the highest level of its life. This consists 
in the restoration or reinstatement, at a higher level, of the 
primordial integrity of mind from which its being as an individual 
whole starts, and for the maintenance of which the enterprise 
and adventure of its experience are undertaken. This highest 
level is a restoration, because the primal integrity was broken 

1 Hut if we lose sight altogether of their inherent connection, the inevitable result 
will be the creation of conflicts between their aims. And thib we find constantly 
happens in actual experience : truth at war with goodness, goodness at war with 
beauty. In such conflicts we will find at once some of the greatest tragedies of 
experience, and the gieatest comedies. 


when the abstraction of functions from one another took place ; 
it is a reinstatement, because the maintenance of its integrity 
from first to last is the final purpose of all its operations. The 
^equipoise of its being in the midst of a changing and varied 
world is the essence of its satisfaction and fulfilment. 

The demand, therefore, for the maximum of enjoyment, or 
again of good, in the mind's relation to the real, is the necessary 
counterstroke to the effort to reach truth through the channel of 
the intellect. And it is important to observe that the mind 
insists on regarding both beauty and goodness as universal and 
objective, though under the same limitations as conceptions are 
held to be so. The ascription of beauty to the real world, and 
again the insistence that the world is on the side of goodness, 
are no more metaphors than the assertion that conceptions or 
truths are valid of the real. The universality of a judgment of 
beauty is as certain as that of a scientific judgment, and as certain 
because it possesses the same characteristics of universality ; it 
is permanent for the mind that holds it, and it holds for a 
plurality of minds. In fact, if beauty and goodness had not 
these features, so commonly ascribed to truth alone, 1 it would 
be impossible to give meaning to the life of the artist, or to 
justify the most elementary act of moral goodness. The real 
supports the ends of the artist and the moral agent, as completely 
as it corroborates the assertions of the scientist. That beauty 
and goodness are so often held to be merely subjective or mental 
states, while truth is considered to be characteristically objective, 
seems partly due to the fact that in the case of the former the 
tendency is to think more of the origin and process of achieve- 
ment, in the case of the latter to pay attention to the result and 
overlook the process ; and partly to the fact that in the former 
the sensuous elements of human life are more in evidence than 
in the case of thinking. 2 What holds of truth, however, certainly- 

1 The explanation of this is the mere accident that the problems of knowledge 
have centred round the nature of science. 

~ On the other hand, when the essential universality of beauty and goodness is 
emphasised, the tendency is to treat them as containing conceptions of a type similar 
to intellectual conceptions. This is equally mistaken ; but, at any rate, it brings into 
prominence the affinity betvs'ecn the effort after beauty and goodness and the effort 
after truth. 



holds in the same way of the pursuit of beauty ancLof goodness ; 
and, conversely, if the latter are human creations established in 
the interest of the self-fulfilment of the mind, the like must be 
maintained of the basis as well as the superstructure of thought. 
It is because of the abstract character which each of these 
channels possesses in relation to the other and to the whole of 
mind, that we find in experience that one of them is exclusively 
chosen by certain types of mind as the main channel of satis- 
faction. The choice is a matter of individuality, capacity, and 
instinctive interest, and no principle can be laid down which 
shall declare that the choice of one is more essential to the mind 
than another. For in each case the choice is justified by the 
fact that the world does bring satisfaction in its own kind to 
the mind. The suggested emphasis on one at the expense of 
the other is an unfortunate, but a natural psychical consequence 
of the selection. Hence we find the attempt sometimes made 
to subordinate one to the other, or even to establish the value 
of one in terms of the other. Hence the forms of aestheticism, 
intellectualism, and pragmatism in the history of the human 
mind. These are at best but misdirections or exaggerations of 
a healthy tendency to select the line of approach to completeness 
that best suits an individual mind. Each individual suffers 
from the prejudice created by his choice ; but that is merely of 
biographical importance and interest. 


The last point I wish to refer to is that intellectual processes 
are never merely intellectual. Distinct as thought, emotion, and 
striving are, as channels towards mental fulfilment, both in their 
course and in their issues, it is remarkable how in actual experi- 
ence they betray the community of their source in spite of their 
distinctness. It is as if the integrity of the mind refused to be 
disintegrated by these abstractions, however firmly the abstraction 
tries to keep to its own groove. The whole life of the mind as a 
unity of intellect, emotion, and striving asserts its sway over 
them, and indeed permeates the separate avenues which it takes 
to attain completeness. Thus in the case of intellectual activity, 


strenuousness* of effort or striving is a fundamental condition of 
reaching an intellectual result, though such strenuousness is not in 
itself an intellectual quality, but a quality of volition in the strict 
sense. Intellectually such strenuousness is indispensable to the 
process, and yet is irrelevant to the logical value of the result 
attained. And with this volitional element are bound up many 
derivative conditions of intellectual success, conditions which 
we sometimes speak of as virtues of the intellectual attitude, 
e.g., those of honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, seriousness, per- 
severance, courage, and the like. None of these strictly con- 
stitute an intellectual conception or arrangement of conceptions ; 
but they most certainly affect the course of our intellectual 
activity. In some cases they may effectually determine the 
issue of our thinking, e.g., by narrowing the outlook or by 
arresting thought in the interests of preconceived ideas, relevant 
or irrelevant. At any rate the neglect of these virtues does 
most certainly alter the value of the result which we reach. 
Similarly, the emotional element plays a vital part in the opera- 
tions of the intellect. The bent , of our intellect towards a 
certain type of inquiry or course of thought is settled, more than 
we often willingly admit, by the emotional attitude we take up 
to the object considered. How otherwise can we explain the 
indifference, and even revulsion, some minds feel towards history, 
mathematics or metaphysics ? l Surely, if the intellectual activity 
were in no way affected by emotions, individuals should be able 
to take a continuous intellectual interest in every object alike, 
though doubtless the degree of attainment would vary with 
intellectual capability. But this is not what in fact we find. 
To some minds the intellectual attitude is rendered impossible 
from the start by an emotional recoil from the object to be 
thought about. Those matters in which we take a keen in- 
tellectual interest make, either at the beginning or very quickly, 
an emotional appeal to the mind amounting in some cases to an 
intensity of passion which will carry even an inferior intellect 
over the most serious obstacles to understanding. We may 
generalise Shakespeare's maxim regarding education and say, 

1 It is noteworthy that the initial emotional attitude is, in most cases, an index 
and anticipation of the intellectual capacity to understand. 


" No profit is where is no pleasure ta'en ; in brief, sir, t study 
what you most affect." For, indeed, no mind can long sustain 
continuity of intellectual activity without the impulsion derived 
from a strong emotion of curiosity, or without the emotional 
elevation which is the better and larger part of the reward of 
unimpeded intellectual effort. The most impersonal scientific 
mind is far from being emotionally colourless ; or if it does 
become indifferent even to the emotional effect of successful 
achievement, it is curious to note how soon either ennui or 
depression seizes the mind. It has often been remarked that, 
in philosophical speculation, the most severely abstract and 
rigorously formal thinkers seem dominated by a kind of fanatical 
enthusiasm for logical order and dialectical display. Now this 
emotional accompaniment of intellectual activity has emphatically 
nothing to do with the constitution of the truth which the intellect 
seeks to secure. The truth is determined simply and solely by 
the canons and conditions of intellectual procedure. The 
emotion pervades the activity but it does not directly regulate 
the conduct of the understanding. 

So profoundly does it affect the character of intellectual 
activity that it sometimes seems as if, at least for certain minds, 
the intellectual process were undertaken to secure a result which 
should be not merely an intellectual satisfaction but an aesthetic 
or emotional satisfaction at the same time. Every one with very 
strong intellectual interest in some field of thought must have 
felt the peculiar thrill which invariably follows the apprehension 
of an illuminating principle. Such a thrill is purely aesthetic in 
its quality, and yet may seem as important, sometimes even more 
important, for the mind than the abstract truth of the principle 
itself. Similarly, the sense of form is a most important factor in 
determining the intellectual result. The mere beauty of the 
arrangement of the conceptions involved in a specific sequence of 
thought gives a satisfaction all its own, and seems worth securing 
for its own sake. The intellectual labour seems to find its 
perfect consummation in the symmetry of the product of its 
activity. This holds of scientific thinking in the narrow sense, 
as any one acquainted with mathematical investigation is aware. 
But it holds as much, and even more, in philosophy, where 


the icjea of Symmetrically arranged thought plays the part, 
for certain minds, of a kind of additional canon of intellectual 
truth. Systems of philosophy, as systems, are the outcome of an 
aesthetic interest in intellectual procedure. They are the products 
of the artistic imagination operating on the material provided by 
the conceptions of the intellect. They are designed to satisfy 
the aesthetic sense rather than the purely intellectual attitude, 
and illustrate by an extreme case the inseparable connection 
between emotional and intellectual processes of the mind. 

We need not consider how, in the same way, intellect is 
involved in the fulfilment of the emotional attitude of the mind, 
or in that of volition : or, again, how the aesthetic element plays 
a part in the achievement of goodness. Analysis would reveal 
that, in the attainment of the end pursued by each of the 
abstract operations, the other factors of the mind are present as 
co-operating influences. But indeed no deep analysis is required 
to demonstrate a fact which experience is constantly bringing to 
light. On the one hand the condemnation of beauty in the name 
of goodness or of goodness in the name of beauty, on the other 
hand the term " beauty of holiness " or, again, the utterance of 
truth with the perfect grace of literary expression, are familiar 
illustrations of the indissoluble blending in actual experience of 
the distinctive attitudes assumed by the human mind in its 
process of self-fulfilment, however much the attitudes may claim 
specific independence of one another. The solid integrity of the 
whple life of mind will not allow itself to be set aside by any 
exclusive interest in one of its abstract functions. However much 
this insistence on its concrete entirety may spell inconsistency or 
hamper with irrelevance the abstract procedure of each distinctive 
attitude, apparently the mind as a whole prefers the inconsistency 
and the irrelevance to the impoverishment of its life by an over- 
emphasis on one of its functions. And some of the more open- 
minded of those who have sought supreme satisfaction along the 
intellectual channel of the mind's activity, frankly admit in the 
end that their special avenue does not give the whole truth they 
desire, does not even give the whole truth sought along that one 
channel. I recall in this connection the admissions made by the 
strenuously intellectualistic mind of Mr. Bradley that, in the long 


run, as he paradoxically puts it, truth cannot be consistently 
and ultimately true, that truth is more than consistency and 
contains more than the criterion of non-contradiction can supply ; 
that our minds and our feelings must, at least in part, determine 
the composition of the final satisfaction we find in truth, and 
indeed that a man's philosophy is in a real sense a matter of 
personal choice. 


It is partly because these three attitudes of the mental life 
emanate from the essential integrity of the mind, and partly 
because in actually fulfilling the demands of any one the others 
indirectly reveal their presence, that the mind is reduced at any 
rate to hope that in the long run the achievements of their 
several aims will converge or co-operate in the production of a 
supreme state of mental satisfaction. This would restore at the 
consummation of thought, of emotion, and of striving, the sense 
of unity from which their divergent operations start, and in the 
interest of which they prosecute their course towards completion. 
Such a hope is certainly warranted, and the realisation of it is 
the larger part of the best religious experience. The convergence 
of these aims, however, can never be more than an aspiration for 
any one of them. Each by itself is burdened with its imperfec- 
tion, and even at times haunted by defeat, simply because by 
itself it is abstract and consciously abstract. The imperfection is 
expressly admitted in a curious way. It is held that for the 
fulfilment of the purposes of the intellect, as well as those of 
goodness, " faith " is required. This faith is brought in to give 
the assurance of final completeness, which each by itself never 
seems to reach. This supplementary faith at once removes 
or corrects the imperfection due to the abstract procedure of 
thinking and striving. It is the way in which the mind as a 
single unity asserts or reaffirms its hold over the abstract aims 
of thought (and striving), and keeps them in immediate and 
continuous contact with the integrity of its life. The faith is 
not an attitude of the intellect itself (or of volition), but an act of 
the whole mind. Properly speaking, it does not mean that in 


time the intellect will create final satisfaction for the mind, for it 
will never do so, no matter how long it operates. Nor does it 
mean that the intellect might ultimately fail unless it were held 
up or kept going by faith ; for the intellect is always attain- 
ing success wherever and whenever it fulfils the conditions of 
intellectual procedure, and the mind has never any honest doubt 
about the value of intellectual activity. This so-called faith is 
simply the attitude by which the whole mind lays claim to all the 
achievements of the intellect in the pursuit of its abstract career, 
gives them their place in the constitution of that supreme 
satisfaction wherein the mind is fulfilled and on the attainment 
of which its hopes are set. The faith so exercised is thus the 
correlative of that hope for final fulfilment to which reference 
was above made. That it should be found necessary is a 
complete confirmation of the position maintained throughout 
this argument, viz., that intellectual activity is an abstract 
operation of the human mind, and finds its entire significance in 
contributing to the fulfilment of a human individuality. The 
faith called in to supplement intellectual procedure is meaning- 
less outside the interests and conditions of human life. It is 
irrelevant to the world of things whether organic or inorganic. 
So long as faith is thus necessary to give significance to the aims 
of the intellect, there is no escape from the essentially anthropo- 
morphic character of intellectual procedure, even apart from the 
considerations already adduced to establish the same conclusion. 
While the various ends pursued by the human mind in its 
process towards self-discovery or self-fulfilment are thus one and 
all truth as well as goodness, and beauty as well as truth 
anthropomorphic in origin and realisation, this conclusion must 
not be misunderstood. They are on this account neither purely 
subjective nor mere passing shadows on the surface of reality. 
In achieving these ends of its being, the mind is using its utmost 
powers to secure and maintain its place amidst the world oi 
beings with which it is confronted, and in which its lot is cast 
the endless variety of objects which make up what we embrace 
under nature, human nature and supernature. And this supreme 
aim dominates the mind's career from first to last. At its earliest 
stage of development it faces its world as a plastic but largely 


undifferentiated unity, adapting itself as well as it can to the 
incessant challenge made upon it by other beings. At its latest 
stages it brings out all its resources separately and successively 
to meet the call of its world, and establish its unity in relation to 
its world. In fulfilling these demands it at once develops its own 
nature, and establishes its place in the realm of reality. By so 
doing, it achieves the highest of which its special order of being 
that of an individual human mind is capable, and therefore it 
expresses all that reality in the form of a human mind contains. 
If we call this supreme result, as we may, the " full truth " of 
mind, then the mind's entire fulfilment is in very literalness a 
revelation of the real. If we say, as some do, that in the 
human mind the real world becomes articulately conscious, then 
we may put the same position in the form that the human mind 
is a conscious exponent of the nature of reality. But such a 
manner of expression adds nothing to the main contention, 
and is apt to be misleading, since it suggests that the processes 
of our mental life have a kind of inarticulate embodiment in the 
non-human domain of the real, whereas my contention is that the 
processes and their outcome have neither existence nor significance 
beyond the domain of the finite human mind whose peculiar 
nature they unfold or express. It is enough for us that our 
place in the world of the real is as well established and as much 
an embodiment of the nature of reality as any other being claim- 
ing to be real. Our place becomes established when our ends 
are completely fulfilled, and by realising our place our ends 
themselves are shown to be of the essence of reality. By 
assuming human shape, ultimate Reality thereby literally becomes 
human. We need not say, with Athanasius, that this was 
done in order that we might become like the ultimately real. 
For, in fact, we have neither the capacity nor the desire to be 
other than that part of ultimate Reality which we embody. To be 
this fully is to be both human and ultimately real at once. Only 
with our whole mind can this be accomplished ; but with this it 
is, not as an act of faith but as literal fact, attained. 



"Tousth-j Universe is a living whole which, apart from violence and partial 
death, refuses to divide itself into well-defined objects and clean-cut distinctions." 

"Yes, sir, but a man is to guard himself against taking a thing in general." 

"Thought's the slave oflife." HENRY IV, Fart I. 

IN ordinary intercourse, as also in psychological and logical 
analysis, it is taken for granted that the mind in knowing an 
object proceeds in a linear series of stages from a point which 
marks the beginning to a point which marks the termination of 
the process. It is also taken for granted that in knowledge we 
somehow deal with the surface of the object, whether the surface 
be regarded as an outside " form," an external " quality," or an 
" aspect " of the object in question. Even when we are supposed 
to penetrate into the interior of the object, and to know its 
essence, the process of doing so is viewed as a linear process, that 
of piercing into its inner nature, and the essence obtained is 
considered to be an " aspect " or " inner surface." 

At first sight these ways of looking at the process of know- 
ledge would seem very different or even inconsistent. A linear 
direction and a superficies are not the same, and a surface is 
not simply a combination of lines. The connexion, however, 
between these familiar assumptions is not difficult to trace. A 
succession of linear directions will cover the surface, though it 
will not give a surface ; and the surface, whatever more it may 
be and however it may be derived, is at least partially a synthesis 
of lines. The two assumptions therefore work conveniently 



together and co-operate sufficiently to keep up the specious 
accuracy of the assumptions themselves. 

If they were merely metaphors, perhaps little harm could 
arise from accepting them, though metaphors tend all too readily 
to be accepted as facts when they are constantly employed without 
criticism. We find, however, they are more than metaphors. 

Knowledge is supposed literally to consist in a succession of 
stages, in the last of which we have the " truth," the preceding 
stages being then set aside or superseded. This is seen when a 
judgment is regarded as an act of knowledge detachable from 
the mental complex of memory and imagination which preceded 
it, and without which it could not take place, but which none the 
less are supposed in no way to enter into the truth of the judg- 
ment. Judgment is the climax of the process, and, being the 
last stage in the attainment of the end in view, is separated off 
from what preceded it and alone contains the truth of knowledge 
merely because it is the last stage in the process. Similarly an 
inference or a system of judgments is only realised after a process 
of thought, and, when attained, is held to be a self-contained 
body of truth as it stands, apart from the process by which it was 
reached : the preceding process is a mere succession of " events " 
in the individual's mind. In a word, when the process of know- 
ledge is regarded as a linear series, the truth comes to be 
identified with the final stage in the series. The end of knowledge 
is identified with the termination of the process. The form of 
sequence in which knowledge appears determines the very con- 
ception of truth itself. Temporal succession is represented as a 
line, and the linear flow of time shapes our view of the nature of 
knowledge, and of the relation of knowledge to reality. 

Against this conception it seems important to urge that the 
influence of the temporal form of the process of knowledge is 
misleading, and when over-emphasised it is altogether mistaken. 
It would be easy to show in detail that it does not do justice to 
the facts of knowledge, and is inconsistent with its issue. What- 
ever meaning there may be in the statement that the truth must 
be the whole, at least it lays stress on what is vital in the operation 
of knowledge from first to last the indivisible integrity^ of .the 
individual mind. This must be our starting point in the inter- 


pretation of the nature of human knowledge. Within the confines 
of this form of individuality all processes of mental experience 
whatever, and the knowing process in particular, take place. 
From this concrete reality they emanate ; its unity holds together, 
and is manifested in the various functions which constitute the 
several processes of experience. All temporal sequence takes 
place within some wider reality, is relative to that reality, and 
is not by itself ultimate. The flow of time is but the form 
of succession of events. The ultimate fact is not a mere 
succession, but a principle expressed in and through succession. 
The sequence is, in short, the appearance of the reality. It is 
the real, undivided and individual, which is both the point of 
departure and the final result expressed by the process. To take 
the process by itself is to misstate the situation. All this holds 
true of mental events as of all other events, whether they take 
place as a succession of changes in an organism or in a planetary 

We must then start with the integral reality of the indi- 
vidual mind if we would understand knowledge the special 
process by which the mind becomes aware of the meaning of the 
world of objects and in so doing establishes unity with its 

Knowledge is, in the first instance, a specific expression of the 
vital energy of the individual. It subsumes within itself all the 
energies, organic, chemical and physical, which together com- 
pose the constitution of a human being. The individual is an 
organism sustaining its organic life with other organisms, 
interrelated with them through functions and processes which 
never enter into clear consciousness at all, which are as yet only 
obscurely known, but which none the less effectively determines 
its existence. It is under the control of chemical agencies and 
physical forces in ways even more obscure but quite unmistakable. 
As a physical body the individual is as much under the sway of 
gravitation as any particle of inanimate matter. It is on the 
basis of these non -conscious conditions that the operations of 
knowledge take place. Knowledge is a specific conscious 
concentration of the whole complex of energies physical, 
chemical, organic making up the concrete human individual. 



When knowing, the mind does not merely utilise these energies 
to carry out its purpose, it contains them in its operation, gathers 
them into itself, and gives them a specific direction in the conscious 
interests of individuality. It is because mind involves in its 
energy the other modes of energy constituting the real, that 
mind can be regarded as at once the outcome and the fulfilment 
of the real. It is the apex of the pyramid, the nucleus of the 
entire complex system. Mind is continuous with and inseparable 
from nature, if we understand by nature the totality of organic 
and inorganic processes. For this reason it is alone in a position 
to give the " truth " about the world, for it sums up and brings to 
a conscious focus the various orders of facts which constitute the 
non-mental world. 

Mind being so constituted, the operation of knowledge is in 
essence one way by which it seeks at once to articulate its con- 
tinuity with its world, to realise in conscious form the energies it 
coneentrateswithin itself, to establish its place as the final energy 
of the world, and to secure the independent integrity of the 
individual mind. These are but several phases of one and the 
same operation, and all involve one another. In carrying out 
this process, its life and activity are one and single throughout ; it 
operates as a solid global whole. It brings all its resources to 
bear on the attainment of its end, for its end is in the long run the 
realisation of itself as a single individual. Some factors in the 
process are more relevant to the issue than others : and we may 
for purposes of abstract analysis treat the less relevant as 
irrelevant But, in fact and in principle^ the relevance is a 
matter of degree. Memory, sensation, imagination, and emotion 
are all implicated in the operations of judgment and inference, 
and are inseparable from their successful exercise. They are less 
relevant than conception, and more relevant than habits of will, or 
again than the circulation of the blood in the brain. But the 
difference is one of degree of remoteness from the final outcome 
of the process of knowledge : that is all. The whole complex of 
the energies of the individual is concentrated into the operation 
of knowledge, for that operation consists simply in the fulfilment 
of the life of mind in one of its various forms of expression. 



The effort of knowing is, then, a centrally initiated and 
centrally controlled vital activity. The actual starting point 
of the process of knowledge is a state of " desire," l a condition 
of mental tension with an implicit end shaping its direction. 
How this is instigated it seems impossible to say definitely. 
We may imagine the psychic energy of our mind in continuity 
with a kind of larger whole of psychic energy, and we may 
suppose that it is the want of equilibrium between the mental 
energy of an individual and this greater realm which creates 
the state of emotional tension. 2 Or we might imagine that 
the state is due to an effort of mentality to bring to a 
single conscious focus and give specific direction to the 
lower unco-ordinated energies of psychic life, just as the 
energy of life may consist in concentrating into a single 
channel of activity the unco-ordinated energies of inorganic 
nature chemical and physical. 8 Or, again, we can suppose that 
the activity of knowledge is due to the overplus of the energy of 
the mind in contrast to that of the objects about it organic, 
physical, chemical thus creating a sense of disjunction and separa- 
tion within the real, which the mind seeks to remove by utilising its 
superior energy to establish harmony between the mind and the 
world of objects. 4 Or, finally, it may be that the singleness 
of the mind has to be maintained by active effort in the face of 
the varied world of objects, so as to recover or retain its place as 
one reality amongst other real beings ; and one of its ways of 
doing so is to realise itself by articulating the meaning of other 
things. 6 All of these guesses are but hints at what must perhaps 
always remain one of the great mysteries of experience. 

Whatever suggestion we make to account for the original 

1 Aristotle, Metaphysics 7. 

3 It is this view that leads to the suggestion that through knowledge man com- 
municates with the Divine Spirit. 

J This would account for the conception that knowledge is a creative synthesis. 

4 Hence the familiar view which regards knowledge as a kind of necessary 
epiphenomenon, an over-consciousness of the "real" world, reproducing or 
*' copying" the actual realm of things, an elaborate work of supererogation. 

6 This is the source of the so-called pragmatist interpretation of knowledge. 


constitution of this fundamental desire towards the self-fulfKment 
of individuality in which knowledge begins and in which it 
essentially consists, the main point is that it is with the indivisible 
integrity of the mind that the effort is made and carried on. 
The individual mind is stimulated into the activity of knowledge 
as a plant or an animal is stimulated into exercising the energies 
of life which lead to growth and development, and which are the 
essential conditions of the maintenance of life. The realm of 
independent individual objects urges the mind, in ways un- 
conscious as well as subconscious, to realise its own vitality to 
the utmost, and exert all its resources to secure itself as an in- 
dependent self-directing individuality. Its obscure and inchoate 
unity is drawn out into ever completer manifestation by the 
appeal of the manifold and relatively complete independent in- 
dividuals * whose ensemble constitutes its environing world. 
And in being so drawn out of its implicit unity the mind is 
assured all the while that it is proceeding towards its own fuller 
self-realisation. It is not, however, simply to imitate or re- 
produce in its own case the independence of other real beings 
that it undertakes the process. No doubt practical activity is 
satisfied by securing a relation of working independence, which 
puts the individual at least on a level with other beings. But 
this process has in many cases a much more restricted interest for 
the individual mind than that of knowledge : it is limited by the 
kind of beings with which the individual enters into practical 
relation. Some of these are so much lower in the scale of in- 
dividuality than the mind that the maintenance of individuality 
at their level alone would, and in fact does, degrade the human 
mind. 2 Knowledge, however, aims at securing for the individual 
mind an independence adequate to its own level of individuality. 
The individuality of objects may be perfect in their order of 
being, without being equal to that of the individual mind. To 

1 " Relatively complete" because knowledge finds or takes for granted that the 
real object is completely individual before the process of knowledge is undertaken. 
It is significant that we never undertake the knowledge of anything which is either 
chaotic, formless, or in the flux of mere change. We either assume the object is 
completely real before we begin, or we wait till its reality is completed before we 
try to know it. 

2 Cp. the lowering mental effect of many forms of occupation. 


obtam for itself complete individuality of its own order of being 
is the aim of the activity of mind in knowing. Hence it is that 
the mind, while stimulated into activity by objects, never takes 
their standard of reality as its own standard of truth. It always 
acts as if it were above them, superior to them, reduces them 
even to mere instances of more general and comprehensive forms 
of individuality. The limit of its process is not set by other 
objects but by itself alone. In knowing, the mind, to use a 
familiar though doubtful expression, " transcends " its object ; 
it has an individuality to maintain which is higher in order of 
being than that of the object. In a sense its cognitive relation to 
the object is but a stepping stone to the attainment of its high 
level of realisation ; and partly because of this, the object is 
invariably treated as inferior in quality of being to the mind 
which knows it. 1 In knowledge the object is a means not the 
end of the process ; and, so far from being an end in itself, it is, to 
use the current phrase, but material for knowledge to deal with. 
The subject-object relation as it subsists in knowledge is not one 
of equality of nature, order of being, or value between the factors 
constituting the situation. Hence it is that when the being with 
which the individual stands in relation is of equal or higher order 
with that of the individual mind, the attitude of knowledge 
is either not adopted at all or is only partially adequate to the 
situation in which the individualities stand to one another. 

This is seen in a peculiarly interesting way in the attitude of 
human individuals to one another in a society, and in the attitude 
of the human individual to a Divine Being. In both cases it is 
felt that to speak of another human being or of the Divine Being 
as a mere " object," is either a figure of speech or a degradation. 
And the issue of knowledge which attempts to treat them as 
mere objects seems to justify this feeling. On the one hand, we 
have the statistical view of human life, which by reducing human 
individuals to instances of general laws i.e. larger individual 
wholes lowers the sense of the value of the single individual ; on 

1 This is one of the most interesting peculiarities of the attitude of knowledge, 
and distinguishes knowledge in a characteristic way from practice. It gives know - 
ledge the quality of detachment and freedom found to some extent in the mood of 
play. In action the individual wrestles with Jus object ^sjvith jajn__egual. 


the other, we have the naturalistic interpretation of human beings, 
which leaves nothing but a difference of complexity to distinguish 
human life from that of sub-human animals and even inanimate 
things. The opposition felt to both of these is in the long run not 
strictly logical, but due to a revolt of the concrete individual 
mind against the attitude towards human beings implied in the 
attempt to exhaust human nature by purely cognitive processes, 
i.e. to regard human individuals as mere objects to be known. 
An appeal is made to the " heart " or to practical life to defend 
the individual against such seeming degradation ; or it is insisted 
that knowledge is " unequal " to the task of knowing the human 
individual at all, because this would require that the agent 
knowing should in some way know himself and know his own 
knowledge as well. Indirectly the same objection is confirmed 
when, for the comprehension of the human individual, it is urged 
that we must adopt the attitude of "love" as well as "know- 
ledge/* and regard him as an end in himself, not as a mere 
object but as a subject. The subject being itself a cognitive 
agent, cannot be treated as a mere object, even when the subject 
is another person. In social life it is found that we do not 
merely "know" other human beings, we feel with them, are 
interested in them, in a word unite ourselves with them in ways 
different from and more than that of mere knowledge. 1 

Similarly the attempt to treat the Divine Being as a mere object 
of knowledge has always been felt to be shadowed by defeat from 
the very first. This is not simply because the object is so vast 
relatively to the puny individual agent who undertakes the task. 
Size is irrelevant ; and the human mind can grasp by knowledge 
objects immensely greater in extent than the finite individual, 
more durable in time and more comprehensive as individualities. 
It is rather that the individuality of the Divine Being is in 
quality and order of existence admittedly higher than the 
human individual, and the fulfilment of human individuality 

1 Hence it is that in historical theories of knowledge the discussion, as a rule, 
centres round the cognitive relation of the mind to objects of "nature" ; the dis- 
cussion of man's relation to man is relegated to another inquiry. No analysis is given 
of how man "knows" man, except in so far as man has a physical or organic 


throftgh the process of knowledge does not require to be 
established in the face of such a Being. The attempt is un- 
necessary, and is futile from the start, for knowledge is but one 
channel through which the concrete individuality of man is 
realised and fulfilled. An absolute individuality, which in some 
way contains, and is in every sense superior to, that of man, must 
in order to enter into any relation with man at all, call forth all 
the sources of man's being simultaneously, and in undivided 
unity. Man's relation to God must be established in terms of 
feeling, will, and knowledge, in terms of beauty, love, and truth 
together, through all the channels of his mental life in short, and 
not by any one of them alone. Hence it is that men approach 
God through feeling, through practical action, and through 
cognitive processes alternately, or by arbitrarily selecting one as 
their primary channel ; they never suppose that one by itself 
is enough for the fulfilment they seek through conscious com- 
munion with such a Being. Hence, too, the current use of 
" faith," either in addition to, or in distinction from, knowledge, 
as the principle of union with the Divine Being. And hence 
indirectly the failure of all attempts to interpret God's Being in 
terms of mere knowledge. When the attempt is made, and God 
is treated as a mere object of knowledge, it is commonly held 
that the object is an unknown, an unknowable, an unfathomable, 
an abstract "entity of reason," i.e. a God away from man 
altogether and without the complex richness characteristic of 
a concrete object of knowledge. God is made into an object at 
the price of losing the essential significance appropriate to a 
superior order of Being ; and the issue of such knowledge is thus 
in plain discordance with the initial character of the Being which 
the thinker sets out to know. To be treated as an object is to be 
lowered beneath the level of the cognitive subject ; and when the 
object in question admittedly transcends all other objects of 
knowledge it becomes a bare substratum of objects in general, 
less in actual content than a finite individual object Hence 
the paradoxical result ; the transformation of the Supreme Being 
into a mere object of knowledge turns this object into a lower 
order of being than that of any finite object whatever. It 
becomes a bare object, indistinguishable from nothing, a mere 


abstract limit to knowledge itself, because it has the lowest limit 
of meaning of any object mere Being. The attribute " supreme " 
remains, but only as an empty compliment passed by the knowing 
subject on the object in deference to the inquiry undertaken ; the 
attribute is not justified by the results obtained. In point of fact 
such a Reality at the end of the process of knowledge tends to 
be supreme only in its significance beyond knowledge. 


The undertaking of knowledge, then, engages the energies of 
the individual mind in the interests of self-fulfilment in the face 
of the equally independent objects with which it is environed. 
It is limited from first to last by this consideration. The mind has 
to realise its own special order of individuality, which is felt to be 
higher than that of the objects with which it deals. It always 
feels itself equal to its task precisely in consequence of this 
initial superiority which it possesses ; and the result justifies its 
claim. The objects it knows are interpreted in terms which 
partially express its own constitution. The individual mind is 
in part a complex of physical, chemical, and organic factors, and 
these it shares with other beings. It is with objects of such a 
character that its knowledge is in the first instance concerned, 
and with these its efforts are in the main successful. As a mind, 
conscious of itself as mind, it is above their order of being ; as an 
individual mind it consciously concentrates all their energies into 
a single individuality. 

In realising its individuality through this process, it proceeds 
in a succession of stages, in each of which its individual life is 
expressed, and none of which can be dispensed with in its effort 
after complete satisfaction. The emotional attitude, which is the 
starting point of every process of knowledge, is the intermediary 
between the organic embodiment of the individual mind and the 
higher conscious life. The organism gathers into itself the in- 
animate energies of the individual, and carries with it all their 
reality. In an emotion the organic is transformed and con- 
centrated into a conscious direction of the mind towards a fulfil- 
ment of individuality. Hence it is that in taking up the attitude 


of knowledge the mind always feels itself rooted in reality from 
the first, and is never away from the real, never carries on a 
process which is over and above the real world or independent 
of it. Knowing is an actual function of the real, which is carried 
through by that form of individuality in which all the other 
energies of the actual world are summed up and unified. It is 
thus that in knowledge the mind is in communion with and com- 
municates reality ; it communes with the real because it is through 
and through continuous with the substance of the world ; it com- 
municates the real also because it expresses in one form the 
active energy of the individual mind, which is an epitome of all 
reality. It is not because the mind and the world are opposed 
that knowledge takes place or is demanded ; l it is because they 
are in continuity that knowledge is even possible. We may, 
indeed, draw a distinction between the mind and the rest of the 
real, or even between the mind and the body. And it is certainly 
true to say that knowledge is a mental process alone. But it is 
not in virtue of this distinction that knowledge takes place, but 
in spite of the distinction. The indivisible continuity of mind 
with the world about it is the very inspiration of knowledge and 
the guarantee of the success of the effort. 

Hence it is meaningless to speak of the mind " copying " the 
nature of things through the process of knowledge, or " reprodu- 
cing " the order of the world in intelligible terms. This precisely 
inverts the actual situation ; for it implies that the mind brings 
nothing new into the real, that the real is complete by itself with- 
out mind, and that mind can at best but duplicate in shadowy 
form a finished substantial reality. The real is not even known 
to be complete until mind gathers up all its substance into itself. 
It is impossible to " copy " until we know the original, and this 
means that the knowledge of the original cannot itself be a copy. 
It is equally impossible to copy until the original is fully present 
before us ; but if the mind is required to complete the real, the 
original is not in existence till the mind is there or otherwise 
the so-called copy is itself a constituent factor in the original. 
Nor can we copy unless the transcriber is outside both the 
real and the material to which he transfers the original form ; the 

1 This view is entirely based on the perceptual aspect of the situation. 


artist cannot himself be the copy and the transcriber to one. 
Nor again does the mind give us a " reproduction/' in any other 
sense, of the real ; for the real must be ripe before it can be 
reproduced, and it is not ripe till mind has supervened upon and 
consciously focussed the non-mental levels of reality. And any 
reproduction must give us the real over again in a like inde- 
pendent substantial form. But transparently knowledge neither 
creates nor procreates a real independent of its own being. 
What knowledge reproduces is a mental product pure and 
simple, which may be incorporated in physical symbol, such as 
words or letters, but these are merely artificial aids to knowledge, 
not real beings by themselves. This mental result can certainly 
be reproduced time after time, by the same mind or in different 
minds ; but every time it is a mode of mental life, not an in- 
dividual existence independent of mind. In general it seems 
absurd that reality should ever require to be " copied " or " repro- 
duced" in any sense. The original is enough to constitute a 
part of the world ; nothing less will suffice to constitute a part, 
and the original is good enough for all purposes, we may be 
certain. A copy is a poor substitute for an original, and a need- 
less addition to it. Of all individuality it may be said that once 
is enough. What the mind strives for in knowledge, what reality 
achieves by the process of knowledge, is fulfilment of being in 
conscious articulate form, a fulfilment which is an expression of 
the life of mind, a realisation of this highest order of individuality. 
Mind has laws and conditions peculiar to itself, and by these it 
carries on and carries out its own peculiar life. In realising itself 
through the process of knowledge it operates according to these 
laws and conditions and no other, and does so for its own sake 
and for nothing else. Physical beings as such, and organic 
beings as such, fulfil their order of individuality by laws and 
conditions peculiar to themselves. The activity of mind subsumes 
these other orders of reality ; they make possible the activity of 
the concrete individual as a conscious concentration of their 
energies. In fulfilling itself, the individual mind fulfils all that 
they contain and are ; and over and above fulfils its own level of 
energy as well. In that sense mental activity in general, and 
the activity of knowing in particular, is the fulfilment of the world 


in which we are placed, is in a sense its final outcome, and thus 
its supreme end. 


In the execution of this undertaking, the concrete individual 
proceeds gradually. It meets other beings at their own plane as 
a first stage. Its effort is directed first towards establishing 
itself in relation to them in terms of their specialised embodiment. 
It becomes conscious of them on the outside and by way of 
spatially constituted physiological functions the sense organs of 
the organised embodiment of the individual mind. They do not 
act of themselves ; the mind operates through and in them as a 
concrete individual in the interest of its self- fulfilment. All its 
potencies memory, feeling, imagination and emotion are to 
some extent involved in the operation. Moreover, because the 
operation is a reaction of the individual on an independent in- 
dividual object, the mind is conscious of the solid reality of the 
object from the first, though to begin this is only felt as a re- 
straining limit to its own expansion and an incitement to its 
fulfilment, at once drawing the mind beyond its immediate state 
and compelling it to sustain itself in relation to the object in- 
dependent of itself. 

This mental operation through sense functions sense-percep- 
tion is found, simply by the process of the experience of know- 
ledge, to meet only the first demands of the mind and the outside 
or superficial character of the object ; and these two go together. 
The mind certainly satisfies itself to a certain extent in the 
process ; it arranges sense-qualities in an order of place and 
succession. It thus realises the meaning of the object, and in so 
doing realises its mental life at the same time. It maintains and 
secures more firmly its individuality as a real among reals. But 
the outcome of the process at this stage is merely to throw into 
still stronger relief the independence of the objects. Knowledge 
does not merely substantiate the individual mind, it substantiates 
the objects at the same time. They become more real for the 
mind the more the mind knows about them. The constituent 
factors of the objects become distinguished, and so related, in a 


way that is not found at the earliest stage of emotional interest 
in the object. Their parts are differentiated from one another ; 
the reality of the object becomes a whole of such parts : the 
objects themselves as separate beings are found to have points 
of contact and connexion with each other, to share similar 
elements. This discovery of fuller knowledge, obtained on the 
completion of the first stage the use of sense-organs draws the 
mind on to a further reaction, to a further establishment of its 
being in relation to other beings, to a further fulfilment of itself 
as an individual. Just as practical action commits the individual 
to a more prolonged activity as soon as the first active step is 
taken, and in a manner creates the necessity to take further 
action simply because he has made the first venture ; so in the 
case of knowledge. Knowledge both allays activity and awakens 
new activity, finds solutions and sets problems, gives answers and 
raises questions. In the long run this is due to the incessant and 
inevitable interrelation between the individual beings constituting 
the real world : action and reaction, continuous interdependence, 
is the condition by which all independence is sustained. 

The exhaustion, then, of the potencies of perception compels 
the mind to undertake a further stage in the process of knowledge. 
It can do so, seeing that the mind is a richer order of being than 
the object. And it must do so, because it has other ways of 
exercising its unity than through the organs of sense, and must 
function in these ways. Further, the very process of co-ordfaating 
the meaning of the object in terms of sense-experience has put 
the object in a new setting altogether and thus necessitated a 
further effort of synthesis. The mind has no specific physiological 
organ for the function it now brings into play. It calls upon the 
deeper resources of its individuality, those which more directly 
express and manifest the central unity of its life, and in that 
sense seem to the conscious mind to be more nearly its very self. 
This distinctive function is the activity of thought, which, whether 
in the lower form of ideas or the higher form of conceptions, is 
the energy of unifying diverse elements in a manner which 
realises in specific form the pervasive single unity of the mind's 
individuality. It has the character of identity or constancy of 
function peculiar to this all-encompassing unity; and hence the 


functional exercise of this unity is the source of the generality 
and universality of thought 

The unity of individuality is certainly involved in perception, 
but it is implicit ; it is the unity of an organic function structurally 
determined and uniform in its operation. In conceptual activity, 
the highest form of thinking, the unity is explicitly and, indeed, 
deliberately brought to bear on the situation. Hence it is that 
thinking in the highest sense has all the character of purposive 
activity, an end set before the mind which it seeks to reach by an 
effort all its own. And since the thoughts evolved are the mind's 
self-devised functions for realising its own single unity, the mind 
invariably finds itself and feels itself freer in the exercise of the 
function of thinking than in the activity of perception ; so much 
so indeed that the mind even takes upon itself to choose not 
merely how and when but what it shall think. In perception 
there is always a certain measure of constraint and even compulsion 
imposed on the mind. 1 

The eye it cannot choose but see ; 

We cannot bid the ear be still ; 
Our bodies feel, where'er they be, 

Against or with our will. 

In thought, however, the mind is liberated from this external 
thraldom and moves in a direction determined by its own inner, 
i.e. essential, nature. 2 Not that there is no joy in mere percep- 
tion, no sense of fulfilment : but it is akin to the joy of healthy 
organic functioning, and is partial because localised in a certain 
region of the body. In thinking, the whole mind is suffused with 
a sense of being present as a single unity in the transaction, and 
hence successful thinking brings a fuller joy, a completer sense of 
fulfilment, and so of greater freedom. 

1 It is partly for this reason that most people have felt a certain reasonableness in 
the suggestion that our senses might well have been differently constituted, both in 
kind and power. No one is much impressed by a like suggestion in the case of the 
activity of thought. 

2 It would be interesting, though not perhaps very profitable, to ask why thinking 
should be a later stage of the knowing process than perception. One can imagine a 
mind which begins to know by conceptual activity, or even carries on the process of 
knowledge by conception alone. Probably we begin by perceiving because we are 
alive as organic beings before we become more alive through conscious effort of 


It must not be supposed that by this new reaction df the 
mind, this new advance of mental life, which takes place in 
thinking activity, that the mind in any way withdraws into 
itself. This is the familiar misinterpretation of the process of 
" reflective " knowledge. Such a view confuses the mental act 
of drawing upon the mind's fuller resources with an act of with- 
drawing from the realm of perception altogether. If the mind 
did so withdraw, the operation of reflective thinking would 
inevitably be in the end as incomplete and unsatisfying as that 
of perception, whose incompleteness demands the new effort of 
the mind. 1 In point of fact, however, the mind finds greater 
fulfilment, as a concrete individual, from the course knowledge 
takes after reflective activity than before it. This means that 
what perception supplied is not dispensed with but resumed and 
recast through the operation of thinking. The mind may for the 
moment when calling upon its greater resources detach itself 
from perception, but its action is that of reculer pour mieux sauter. 
Even those who take this abstract view of the nature of re- 
flective activity have to admit that it is inaccurate ; for they, at 
least generally, speak of the need of "testing" reflective thought by 
an " appeal " to perceived facts, i.e. they confess that the detach- 
ment does not really take place at all. 2 But the significance of 
the new step is not to be found in such an external relationship 
as that implied in the use of one to test the findings of the 
other. The reflective activity is a further and fuller expression 
of the same principle which operates in the perceptual phase of 
knowledge. This principle is the realisation of the individual 
mind through the process of apprehending the nature of the 

1 This can be abundantly illustrated from the history of logical theories, both 
those which treat perception as primary for knowledge and conception as secondary, 
and those which treat conception as primary and perception as secondary. The 
whole movement from Locke to Kant is permeated by this misinterpretation, and it 
still prevails in current logical theory, e.g. Bradley and Bosanquet, largely owing to 
Lotze's influence. 

2 The relation between conception and perception has to be expressed in this 
external way by those who look upon them as detached from the start. The 
absurdity of the view is further indicated by the very attempt to bring them together 
again in this external way j for the "test" is obviously reciprocal, perception 
" tests " conception, conception " tests " perception. But what tests the test, if they 
are, in fact, external to one other ? 


object ^as an independent being. It is the unity of the individual 
mind which is manifested in each stage, and operates in both 
alike. Reflective activity gives a richer cognitive experience 
because it carries with it the acquired achievements of the earlier 
stage, because the mind brings to the focus of its single unity the 
specialised functions of perception, grasps by the conscious 
exercise of its unity the diverse results of the spatially constituted 
organs of perception in which the unity of the individual mind is 
least implicit. Reflective activity can only be a greater fulfilment 
of the cognitive process if the greater exercise of the mind's 
unity includes the less. To exclude the less is either to im- 
poverish the mind when making the new advance, or to put the 
two on an equality of value. Both are impossible if it be the fact, 
as it is accepted to be the fact, that in reflection the mind does 
increase the mind's cognitive union with the object. The increase 
is an increment to the experience of knowledge, not a mere 
numerical addition to the previous stage of knowing. The 
object, as the result of reflective activity, assumes for the mind a 
more solid substantiality, a greater permanence and a more co- 
herent individuality. The individual mind, on its side, establishes 
itself more firmly as a consciously independent real being, is more 
completely aware of its own existence, and has a more abiding 
sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. Subject and object, in short, 
become more reciprocally independent because of the increased 
conscious interdependence brought about by the later stages of 
knowledge. The fuller individuality of the mind deepens the 
sense of that of the objective real. 

It must not be supposed that the advance in knowledge made 
by reflection transforms or even changes the qualitative distinct- 
ness of perceptual knowledge. However intimately they are 
connected on the basis of their common principle, the later does 
not alter the peculiar character of the earlier stage. Perception, 
in a word, does not grow into reflection, and in so doing lose its 
specific quality as a mode of knowledge ; as a bud, for example, 
ceases to be a bud when it becomes a blossom. This is another 
familiar misinterpretation. 1 Perception makes its own unique 

1 It is found most usually in so-called idealistic views of knowledge : just as 
the supposition of an external relation between perception and reflection is the 


and intransmutable contribution to the life of the pVocess. .There 
is no substitute for it, and no way of supplanting it or superseding 
it in its own kind. So much is this the case that it is possible 
in principle, and seems a fact of cognitive experience, that a mind 
can be confined to the level of perception, and never pass beyond 
it. This seems mainly the level of the purely animal mind. In 
human knowledge, reflection, we find, can also operate by itself, 
e.g. in abstract mathematical reasoning. But reflection can 
never give us precisely what we have in perception. The con- 
ceptual construction of a theory of light or sound, be it ever so 
accurate, cannot render to us the organic reality of a glowing 
colour or a thrilling note. The theory of art is not by itself a 
substitute for, or an improvement upon, the perception of the 
landscape on the canvas, or the ordered sequence of notes 
constituting the musical symphony. The latter is not to be 
had by analysis of the theory, either by way of derivation or 
illustration. We cannot hear a sonata better by knowing the 
theory of sound or even the theory of musical composition. No 
conceptual activity whatsoever can conjure a single perceived 
fact or perceptual act into existence as a form of knowledge. 
The two are qualitatively distinct as stages of knowledge, and 
each unique in kind in spite of, indeed because of, being in the 
long run specific expressions of the single activity of the one 
individual mind directed towards the end of realising itself 
through the apprehension of the meaning of the real objective 
world. They are neither superimposed on one another, the later 
on the earlier, the higher on the lower, nor abstracted from one 
another, nor does the greater grow out of the less. The deeper 
apprehension, the greater knowledge, is a new creation of the 
energy of the mind, as distinctive in its order as that of per- 
ception, and as distinct in kind as one organ of perception is 
from another. 

Just as the individual mind operates in its undivided integrity 

characteristic error of the mechanical theory of knowledge. The former looks on them 
as moments of growth the latter as superimposed layers. Both are mistakes for the 
same reason : they treat the stages apart from the unity ; they both ignore the fact 
that it is the concrete individuality present in earlier stages which manifests itself in 
each, but with greater fullness. 


in an a*ct of perception, bringing to bear on the present its con- 
sciousness of the past memory its synthesising function of 
imagination, its conative force, and its feeling states, so in the 
operation of reflection the mind concentrates its undivided energy 
into the prosecution of this further stage of knowledge. Reflective 
activity is not carried on in abstraction from the other constituent 
functions of the mind. Its essence lies in a completer utilisation 
of these functions for the purpose of achieving an increased 
apprehension of the nature of the object. It calls upon the 
resources, and assumes in its process the concurrent exercise, of 
memory and imagination, conation, feeling, and always to some 
extent perception. The necessity of the last for reflection is seen 
in an interesting way in the operations of so-called pure con- 
ceptual activity such as we have in mathematical science and 
philosophy. For while the manipulation of pure concepts seems 
to take place independently of perception, so organic is per- 
ception to the process of conception that where direct reference 
to a given perceived object fails, the mind creates for its purpose 
such a reference and makes use of symbols which appeal to the 
eye or the ear. Conception cannot accomplish its task without 
the aid of written or spoken symbols, which hold entirely of the 
region peculiar to perception. It is a singularly interesting proof 
of the organic connexion of the operations of perception and con- 
ception ; and an equally interesting confirmation of the view just 
indicated that in reflection the mind takes up a higher and 
yet unique attitude of knowledge to find the mind in " pure " 
conceptual activity creating for its own purposes perceptual 
symbols to effectuate the realisation of its larger sphere of know- 
ledge. That the mind does so in the case of reflection is 
precisely due to its being a greater expression of the mind's 
energy. The mind in reflection, so to say, overtops the limits of 
perception, finds perception inadequate to its demands for com- 
pleter fulfilment : and, because perception is none the less 
organically necessary to its larger activity, the mind signalises 
its transcendence of the limits of perceived natural fact by con- 
triving mere perceptual symbols to correspond with and to assist 
the abstracter aims of reflection. 



The mind never thinks with mere detached conceptions alone ; 
the individual mind is engaged as an integral unity in the opera- 
tion of conceiving the object. Its aim is to establish itself as 
individual in conscious interdependence with individual objects ; 
and for this purpose it carries its concrete individuality into the 
process. The different conceptions it devises in the execution of 
this aim, and the different steps by which the operation of 
reflection is articulated judgment and inference are but several 
manifestations of the undivided unity of the mind's life in the 
process. They are never detached from one another, neither 
from the unity of the mind, nor from the unity of the aim it has 
in view, nor, again, from the singleness of the object it seeks to 
know ; and these are but distinct ways of looking at the same 
concrete experience. The various conceptions originated by the 
mind are called for by the variety of independent objects in 
relation to which the mind's unity has to be sustained They 
cannot be known in advance of experience, but only in the 
experience of knowing the objects. In that sense they are always 
derived from experience. They are not, however, " discovered " 
by experience as if they were there waiting to be found out by 
the mind : that is once more a mechanical misinterpretation of 
the facts. They are operations of the mind's energy exercised in 
realising its unity in the face of individual objects ; and we can 
no more speak of them being " there " before these operations 
are performed than we can speak of leaves and branches being 
" there " before or until the living energy of the tree has elicited 
them into being. What the term discovery really means to 
convey is that the conceptions when devised are necessary, or are 
" objective/' and not accidental. This is true ; but it is a truism. 
For it merely emphasises the fact that the conceptions are the 
vital and essential functions of the mind's unity, and that they do 
articulate for the mind the meaning of the object ; and this is 
but saying that they are conceptions or cognitive operations. 
The mind does not create conceptions for amusement or in play, 
but to sustain its consciousness of unity as the vital necessity of 
its life. The conceptions share this necessity which urges the mind 


to maintain itself. But they are relative to the mind and its 
needs. In that sense they are constituent conditions of the pro- 
cess of self-fulfilment, not separate self-existing entities either 
primordially " innate " in the mind or externally and eternally 
immanent in the independent object. In a word, the object 
alone is independent of the individual mind, not the conceptions 
by which and through which the mind realises for itself the 
meaning of the object and in so doing fulfils its own peculiar 
order of being. The only independent mental reality is the 
individual mind itself as a concrete unity ; the conceptions are no 
more separable from or independent of the mind's unity than the 
beats of -the heart are independent of or separable from the 
energy of the heart's single action. What shape the conceptions 
shall take, how many they shall be, and how comprehensively 
they shall express the unity of the mind all this is not merely 
relative to the individual mind, but in a manner historically con- 
tingent on the character of the individuality engaged in the 
operation of knowledge. Hence it is that conceptions vary 
within limits from individual to individual, from race to race, and 
from society to society. 

There is no historical or logical ground for the view that 
there is a self-closed final catalogue or scheme of categories. 
The construction of a system of categories is inspired partly 
by the misleading influence of mere language, which is an 
historical accompaniment of the human mind and varies with 
its needs ; partly by the application, or rather misapplication, 
of the artistic imagination to the special material of verbally 
embodied conceptions, in order to give the rounded arrange- 
ment of an artistically complete whole to the miscellaneous con- 
ceptions employed by the developed intelligence of a civilised 
people and expressed in their language ; and partly by a false 
interpretation of the ideal of knowledge and of the relation of the 
unity of the mind to the knowing process. The unity of the 
mind being undoubtedly that of a single individual, it is inferred 
that the ideal of knowledge must also be at the other end of the 
process an indivisible and independent unity ; and since the unity 
of the mind 'in knowledge is consciously at its highest when 
expressed in the form of conceptions connected or unified, 


this terminus ad quern of the process of knowledge is imagined 
as a single compact system of such conceptions. The supposition 
that the end of knowledge must be found in the construction of 
such a system is little more than an elaborate illustration of the 
fallacy of composition. Because the unity of the mind is realised 
in definite and discrete conceptions, it is inferred that the supreme 
expression of its unity will take the form of a single conception 
containing all its conceptions : because each successive act of 
knowledge involves the unity of the mind, therefore the complete 
unity of the mind is a single act of knowledge in which its whole 
unity is realised all at once ; or, again, because the mind is ful- 
filled in operations realising its unity, therefore its supreme unity 
is realised in a single operation containing all its functions 
simultaneously. As truly might we offer the authorised 
biography of a man as the equivalent of the man's life or as the 
ideal and fulfilment of his activity ; a record of the beats of the 
heart for the vital energy of its existence. But for conceptions 
being stereotyped in language, the attempt to construct such a 
system would hardly have suggested itself to anyone. It is not 
the aim of the mind in framing conceptions to seek fulfilment in 
either a supreme single conception or system of conceptions. The 
individual mind is the one source and centre of its conceptions ; and 
these but bring forth its unity in special cases to meet special 
situations. It could never secure final fulfilment in any one con- 
ception, however comprehensive, for the simple reason that the life 
of the mind, like that of any organism, consists in actual activity 
not in coming to an end of itself, in living not in having lived. 
The mind in energising in knowledge is constantly finding fulfil- 
ment and satisfaction ; it does not seek to secure a single supreme 
state of satisfaction. The fact that the mind embodies its unity 
in conceptions does not, in a word, either imply or even suggest, 
still less require, that there should be a single and self-complete 
conception or system of such conceptions ; for to attain such 
would be to extinguish the very fire it is meant to sustain. The 
end of knowledge is not an ideal conception, but mental satisfac- 
tion or fulfilment, and this is not one final state but a variety of 
states in which the single living individuality is realised, some- 
times with more completeness, sometimes with less. For the 


mind* a less comprehensive conception is relatively just as 
necessary to the mind's life as a more comprehensive, for through 
both it sustains its individuality in the face of the world of objects. 
In the strict sense a conception is not the mind's unity at all but 
a function or operation of that unity. The unity of the mind is 
nothing less than the whole individuality of its being as a 
spatially organised embodiment of mental energy. Neither in the 
interests of knowledge nor in the nature of conception is there 
any ground therefore for constructing a system of conceptions. 
Conceptions only subsist in the operations of the individual mind, 
no matter how many there may be or what their character. 1 

The difference in kind amongst conceptions presents an 
interesting parallel to the different kinds of perception ; and the 
difference is certainly as real in the one case as in the other. At 
first sight it might seem possible to reduce (or, as it is sometimes 
said, deduce) one conception to another, e.g. quality to quantity, 
purpose to mechanism, or even all of them to one supreme con- 
ception, for example, unity or order. The attempt has often 
been made, and probably will always be made. The search for 
the philosopher's stone has all the fascination of an elusive 
phantom, and a phantom, which persists, gains through its very 
elusiveness some of the characteristics of an ideal. An obsession 
may assume the quality of a baffled instinct and be as difficult to 
eradicate. But in spite of all the efforts the mind has steadily 
refused to admit that one conception which it devises and requires 
to secure its sense of unity can be replaced or displaced by 
another. The long struggle for cognitive primacy between 
mechanism and end sufficiently demonstrates this; and it is 
typical of every other case. Every conception expresses the 
mind's function of unity ; yet each conception is not its bare unity, 
but a different embodiment of its concrete individuality of action. 
The reason why the effort to reduce all forms of perception to 

1 The attempt to treat a system of conceptions as the objective totality of the 
mind's unity, as the completed utterance of the mind, and therefore as equivalent to 
the mind itself, is in the long run a purely mechanical view of knowledge. It treats 
the mind as a machine whose product is the mechanical equivalent of the energy 
exerted in the process of knowledge, just as the work done by an engine is mechanically 
equivalent to the energy exerted by the engine : so that the mind's energy just equals 
the system of the categories. 


one form has not been so persistent is merely that the differences 
e.g. between eye and ear are so palpable that it seems folly to 
pursue the attempt Touch, it is seen, may be common to both ; 
just as sensitive responsiveness is common to both ; but this 
community only throws into greater relief the irreducible 
difference between their operations. The modes of perception 
are separate channels of mental communion with other objects, 
and have their bounds and quality determined by the statutory 
framework of the constitution of the individual organism, 

The conceptions, again, are not generalisations from other 
cognitive factors, whether percept or image. They are ways 
of grasping the meaning of the object as an individual 
reality ; and as expressing the unity of the mind's life they are 
universal operations of this unity, ways in which the single mind, 
the enduring agent in the process, invariably works to secure its 
sense of individuality. Generality is an attribute of a universal, 
but not its essence ; and a mere generalisation, where it is not 
simply an exaggeration due to the play of imagination, may give 
knowledge in " a general way," but not knowledge of anything in 
its individuality. All knowledge is directed upon and toward 
individual objects ; and to know a " thing in general " is not to 
know anything at all. Even if conceptions could be regarded 
as generalisations of percepts, this would still leave unexplained 
how the mind comes to take the step. A perception of an object 
is genuine knowledge, and qitd perception needs nothing added 
to it to make it knowledge in its own kind. A generalisation of 
a percept is not demanded by perception ; but is due to some 
other function of the mind's life, and must therefore have another 
interest in view than that supplied by perception. A mere 
generalisation of a percept would add nothing new to knowledge 
at all. It would add nothing to the validity of the perception ; 
it would not be another kind of perception ; and since it would 
be tied to perception, it would not advance the mind's knowledge 
to a higher degree of fulfilment. It would be an unaccountable 
excrescence on the tree of knowledge. 



The advance which the mind makes at the conceptual level 
of knowledge is brought about by successive reactions of its unity 
on the increasing complexity of the object, which comes to light 
as each act is consciously made to grasp the object in its integrity. 
The complexity of the object increases as the mind finds more 
meaning in it, and the process can therefore only cease in either 
of two ways : either the object presents no further complexity to 
be grasped, or the mind has no further resources to meet the 
complexity of the object presented. The complexity presented 
by the object is always ahead of the effort of the mind to meet it ; 
and generally not far ahead, otherwise the mind becomes tem- 
porarily overwhelmed, as indeed happens in familiar states of 
mental perplexity. To prevent perplexity from constantly re- 
curring, the mind deliberately and artificially restricts the range 
of content in the object to its capacity to meet the situation. It 
abstracts objects from a larger whole, divides objects from one 
another, isolates its factors for purposes of investigation. The re- 
striction within manageable proportions of the complexity of the 
objects dealt with, enables the mind to react gradually on each 
complex situation as it arises. The reaction takes the form of 
connecting the different portions so far unified by the functions 
of judgment and inference. These operations are acts of in- 
tegration made by the mind to secure unity and order among 
conceptions, and as a result to give a completer consciousness of 
the individuality of the object than is possible by the use of 
separate conceptions. The form which this act of integration 
takes in the case of the judgment is that of holding conceptions 
together simultaneously, and in the case of inference that of a 
consequential arrangement of conceptions. It is convenient 
perhaps to speak of inference as a unity (or system) of judgments, 
and of judgment as a unity of conceptions, just as we sometimes 
speak of conceptions as a unity of " images." But this is only 
permissible if we keep in view that it is the same central unity of 
the individual mind which is operating in every case, and is 
realising itself in each case more fully as it becomes thus more 


fully conscious of the individuality of its object. , The unity of 
the judgment is not effected by the conceptions coming of 
themselves together, or by letting loose some secret spring in the 
mind. Judgment is an active operation of the mind as much and 
in the same general sense as conception. And it is a greater 
expression of the unity of the mind because it is a unification of 
conceptions which are themselves forms of unity. Hence it is 
that the mind feels in judgment that it has a greater hold over 
the object, is more fully aware of its individuality as a distinct 
and independent being. The mind's own individuality is more 
fully and consciously realised in the act of judgment, and the 
conscious substantiation of its own being implies a corresponding 
substantiation of the object. So again in inference, the mind's 
unity is more fully expressed by a still more comprehensive opera- 
tion of unity ; it is conscious of its individuality more completely, 
and the individuality of the object has for the mind a greater 
meaning ; it is a consciously systematic whole of content. 1 

The judgment, then, is not a mere development of the con- 
ception as such; it is a new distinctive act of the mind; nor is 
the inference a mere development of the judgment, but a new 
operation of the single individuality of the mind. The only 
development that is affected is that of the concrete living in- 
dividual mind. To speak of judgment developing into inference 
is either a figure of speech or the substantiation of a mere 
function. And the suggestion that with inference judgment 
passes away altogether in the process of knowledge, and " gives 
place " to something higher, is again inaccurate or a figure of 
speech. The inference only has actuality as an effectual opera- 
tion of unifying judgments, which are thus no more dissolved in 
the process than the organisation of the organs of the body 
implies that the organism " cancels " the organs. In inference 
judgments subsist in the same way that conceptions subsist in 
judgments. In a word, conception, judgment, and inference are 

1 The question whether conception precedes judgment or again whether judgment 
precedes inference must be carefully distinguished from the significance of each of 
these as mental operations. Which of them is prior in time depends largely on the 
state of an individual's knowledge. In actual experience a judgment may be 
summarised in a conception, just as an inference may be summarised in a judgment ; 
and again a conception may be articulated into a judgment. 


qualitatively (distinct acts of the individual mind required, each 
and all, to secure its end. 

Judgment, which takes the form of the subject-predicate 
relationship, is only possible after the stage of perception is 
passed. The subject is in general a relatively richer complex of 
content of the object grasped as a single unity ; the predicate is 
a part of this same object at once consciously detached from and 
united to the subject. The mind grasps both in inseparable 
union, and in so doing consciously realises the meaning of the 
individuality of the object. The supposition that in some way 
the subject in judgment is outside the mind, and that the mind 
" applies " predicates to this subject is a confused misstatement 
of the actual situation, largely due to the mechanical interpreta- 
tion of the relation of mind to object in knowledge. The subject 
in judgment is no less a part of the single process in which 
knowledge consists than the predicate. The object remains an 
independent real being through the whole process. 1 Knowledge 
is a mental operation pure and simple, the way in which the 
mind becomes conscious of the meaning of the object. The 
object as a real being has no more to do with our way of 
realising truth than it has to do with us making mistakes in the 
process. Truth and error are both mental, the one the result of 
fulfilling certain special laws of mentality, the other of failing to 
fulfil them. That the subject is only in general a richer complex 
than the predicate is seen in the fact that sometimes both subject 
and predicate have the same degree of complexity, and in that 
case it is a matter of indifference which is taken as subject and 
which as predicate. In other words, there is nothing in the 
nature of the judgment which compels us to take one conception 
as always and alone subject, and another as always and alone 
predicate. The stage of knowledge reached alone determines 
which is subject and which is predicate. In the imaginable limit, 
were we to know the whole universe, the relationships of predicate 
and subject might be completely reciprocal. 2 

1 The treatment of subject and predicate in a judgment as in some way separate 
existences is probably due to a confusion of the subject-predicate relation in judgment 
with the subject-object relation in experience. 

2 That inference is only found at the level of conceptual activity seems generally 



The complex and detailed articulation of inference is required 
by the variety of ideas and conceptions which the mind evolves 
on its way to self-fulfilment. Inference more completely 
realises its sense of individuality than any of the other operations, 
and correspondingly the object assumes a definite individuality 
of meaning which is unattainable at an earlier stage. But the 
final operation of the mind in knowing is not inference, but a 
single concentration of the mind in which it grasps the in- 
dividuality of its object as a single intelligible whole, without 
going through the detailed process of connecting its parts, and 
yet with all that detailed connection subsumed in the act of 
comprehension. This stage is intuition or mental vision, in- 
to have been admitted. That judgment should not have been confined to the same 
sphere of the knowing process is due in large measure to a misinterpretation of the 
iclation of perception to conception. We find writers speaking of "'judgments of 
perception " in the sense not simply that judgments deal with results of perceptual 
activity, but that perception is itself a judgment. Some even go so far as to speak of 
the "perceptual judgment" as the ultimate judgment of knowledge. But for the 
influence of language the phrase " judgment of perception'' would be seen at once to 
be unmeaning. Perception as such requires no words at all ; it does not operate by 
the use of language, but through the physiological structure of the organisms, and is 
complete in its kind as a level of knowledge. We apprehend the things of sense 
about us by the exercise of our sense organs, and these need no other intervening 
agency to establish mental communion between the mind and its object. This can be 
seen on a great scale in listening to a piece of music or looking at a picture. Our 
apprehension can be complete : and speech seems even an intrusion or an irrelevance. 
Language is devised by the mind in the interests of conceptual activity alone, and not 
till it arises are words used. But so does it distort the actual character of knowledge 
that when we apply language to objects which we can also apprehend by perception, 
we tend straightway to identify the linguistic embodiment of a conception with the 
object as apprehended by perception. Hence the term "judgments of perception." 
It is due to a confusion between the conceptual recasting of the individual object by 
the mind and the perceptual apprehension of the same object ; and the confusion is 
effected by the application of language to perceived objects in the interests solely of 
conceptual activity. Hence it is supposed that when we say " this tree is green " we 
are dealing with the object both from the conceptual and from the perceptual point 
of view at once. But the statement "this tree is green" is not a deliverance of 
perception : it is a complex of ideas alone. The perception of the tree is not utterable 
in speech because it needs no utterance : it is direct knowledge, immediate communion 
pf the mind with the object through the exercise of sense organs. That is why 
animals who equally perceive objects use no language and need none for their 


separable from feeling and carrying the sense of completed 
mental activity or free self- fulfilment. In this form the mind 
finds its highest satisfaction, certainty with coherence, unity of 
individuality and conscious union with the individuality of its 
object ; in a word, complete conscious independence through 
interdependence of subject and object. 

This is more readily attained in the mind's relation with a 
small range of objects than in relation to a larger, with some 
kinds of objects more than with others. But wherever it is 
attained there the aim of the knowing process has been reached ; 
in that it finds at once truth and self-realisation through the 
channel of knowledge. The goal of knowledge is not a system 
of thoughts outside the mind, but a state of mind. A system of 
knowledge itself only has being in and through the process of 
reacting or evolving it. The supposition that the aim of know- 
ledge is to establish or find a system of thought holding 
independent of the mind, is due, as already said, to confusing 
the expression of knowledge in language with the realisation of 
knowledge as a mental process. The latter alone is the reality 
in the situation ; the former is an artificially devised means for 
rendering permanent the results of actual knowledge. A system 
of knowledge means, strictly considered, a systematic way of 
knowing. To place the achievements of knowledge on record 
is not to put knowledge in some ideal realm beyond the mind. 
The embodiment of truth in a book is not the " objectification of 
truth " ; we are mere victims of our own devices if we confuse 
these two. Knowledge only subsists as a mode in which the 
mind is realised ; and it is only realised as it actually grasps its 
object, for in so doing it finds itself real and finds the meaning of 
the reality of the object. An organism does not live in what it 
has done, but in the actual exercise of its vital energy. To the 
mind that knows, the world of objects is pervaded by new mean- 
ing ; it becomes a new world sustaining the living individual by a 
new vision which is also a new emotion. A poet does not 
subsist in his written poetry, but in his poetical outlook on the 
world. A religious individual does not live by constantly 
recalling and reformulating his creed, but by actual communion 
with God. A moral agent does not estimate his moral achievement 


in terms of his past acts, most of which he has probably for- 
gotten, but in the clearness of his actual insight into the moral 
situations of every day and his readiness of accurate response to 
the demands of the hour. So in the attainment of knowledge. 
The "ideal," which alone is effective and significant, is the 
possession of a power of reflection and insight which enables the 
agent to realise his place in relation to other beings, and to grasp 
their meaning by the free activity of his thought. This is to 
make knowledge " real " ; this is to know the " truth " ; this is to 
attain the concreteness of knowledge as a vital experience. 

Hence the goal of knowledge is not a far-off ideal, but a 
realised experience. The truth is not the whole of reality, but a 
conscious realisation of a whole individuality. 




" What we really care for we have at first hand, the beginning of the feeling 
being within us or not at all. It is indeed almost impossible to justify a particular 
pursuit to some one else who has not got the sense of it." SIR EDWARD GREY, 

" Even in metaphysics it is difficult to say how far conclusions rest upon personal 
feeling.*' F. H. BRADLEY, Essays on Truth and Reality. 

IN theory of knowledge or logic, as usually understood, the 
procedure of thought is examined, so to say, in cross section 
and at different stages in its course, and each section is analysed 
into its constituent elements. Even where the attempt has been 
made to trace some development in the process, this has been 
confined to showing how the different stages form a necessary 
sequence of steps in the evolution of a single function of thought. 
No one studying such an analysis would gather that there is any 
end in view throughout the process except the interrelation of 
the elements of thought conception, judgment, inference when 
dealing with the different kinds of objects on which the function 
of thinking is exercised : or that thought had any essential con- 
nection with the living reality of the individual human mind. 
The result is that thought comes to be looked upon as a species 
of spiritual machinery which, if wound up and set going according 
to certain laws, will turn out a certain product. The thought 
machine comes to be regarded with a mixture of wonder and 
expectation, confidence and fear, as if the mind in committing 
itself to it did not know what would be likely to happen and 
might have to surrender cherished convictions in accepting its 



Such a view arouses suspicion. As well might we fry to 
confine the whole interest of architecture to the laws of building 
construction and set aside as irrelevant the aesthetic value of 
the product. As well might we resolve a piece of music into 
the physical principles of acoustics and ignore the beauty of the 
composition ; or an act of kindness into the laws of physiology 
regardless of the human good, the act accomplished. The end 
achieved by a process of thought is at least of as much import- 
ance, in some respects of more importance, than the stages 
of thought through which the truth is reached. The end is 
certainly more than the process, however much the two are 
inseparable ; and our attitude to the end is not constituted or 
determined solely by the nature of the laws in obedience to 
which the end is attained. Our interest in the end is prior to 
our interest in the process, and even controls the course of the 
process throughout. 

The interest in the end of knowledge seems the same in 
character as our interest in any of the other ends which make up 
what we call our ideal experience. This interest seems certainly 
emotional in its essence. Our attitude towards the good or the 
beautiful is from the first non-intellectual. It begins in a conscious 
craving which engages and concentrates our whole mentality, and 
contains a forefelt anticipation of a certain form of mental satis- 
faction which is to be secured by reaching the end in question. 
Sometimes the end in view is but vaguely present to the mind : 
the outgoing of the mind in an emotional direction seems what 
is most vividly before us. Sometimes the end is quite definite, 
at least in its general outline, and gives intensity and precision 
to the emotion. In either case the emotion and the consciousness 
of the unrealised end are inseparable ; and in either case the 
emotion sets the mind to work to find the means to secure the 
end. The search for the means is quite a distinct attitude from 
the initial state of emotion, so distinct that the emotional attitude 
continues, though with diminished vividness, during the search 
for the means, sustaining the process and surviving after interest 


in th3 process is exhausted by the finding of the means. Hence 
it comes about that in the result attained there is always the 
emotional state of satisfaction as well as the consciousness of 
the accuracy of the process by which the result is reached. 
Indeed, in many cases the emotional state seems often more 
precious than the accuracy of the process, and seems to relegate 
the latter to a subordinate position, even though the vividness of 
the satisfaction is due to the success of the intermediate stages. 
The good achieved gives a thrill of feeling all the greater for the 
arcluousness of the activity exercised in bringing it about ; the 
beauty produced brings a glow of delight which is not mere 
relief from the strain of producing the result, but a positive sense 
of mental fulfilment in the end gained. 

All this holds equally of the pursuit of the end and ideal of 
knowledge. At the basis of the search for knowledge lies the 
emotion ^of curiosity, which is but the elementary form of the 
higher and more complex emotional attitude towards the end of 
all knowledge. Curiosity may have its source in the instinct 
of self-conservation on the one hand, and the mere reaction of 
perceptual activity upon a novel element in the objective con- 
tinuum of perception on the other. But the emotion is not a 
mere reflex action ; it is an attitude in which the mind is concen- 
trated upon the attainment of an anticipated form of satisfaction. 
This draws the mind onwards, and arouses its activity in the 
direction of the satisfaction sought, awakening interest in the 
object and stimulating the mind to find the means which will 
secure the satisfaction. The difference between curiosity and 
scientific interest is not in the presence of emotion in the one 
case and its absence in the other. There is emotion in both. In 
the latter the emotion is more continuous, stable, and permanent ; 
in curiosity the emotion is temporary, variable, and transitory. 
This difference is reflected in the kind of knowledge sought and 
achieved. In the one case the knowledge is unsystematic and 
of value to the particular mind alone ; and in the other it is 
coherent and leads to a result of universal concern for other 
minds as well. 

The emotion present in the process of knowledge is, like 
every emotion, a single state of mind containing all the main 


functions of mind ideation, feeling, and conation in inseparable 
union. The integrity of the mind is engaged in this attitude 
towards the object for one purpose only the articulation of 
meaning with a view to mental satisfaction. In the long run 
doubtless the mental satisfaction may be said to be the attain- 
ment of man's mental synthesis with his objective world. But 
this is rather a later interpretation of what the satisfaction 
signifies than a description of that satisfaction itself. For the 
satisfaction is irreducible to anything further than just the fulfil- 
ment of the mind through the articulation of the meaning of the 
object. Such a condition seems unique, at least unique in the 
sense of being quite distinctive and not reducible to any other 
mental state. Hence it is a mistake in analysis, as well as in 
principle, to attempt to find the origin of the scientific attitude 
in an earlier " practical " interest in the world, as if man began 
by taking a practical interest in the world first and then, with 
leisure and opportunity, came later on to be interested in the 
world for " theoretical " reasons, for " truth's sake alone." There 
is no evidence in mental history or justification in principle for 
such a view. The emotional attitude of curiosity which develops 
into the scientific frame of mind is as fundamental and distinctive 
as the emotional attitude which leads man to alter his world to 
suit himself. It is mere confusion to take the absence of the 
scientific mood in the primitive or early mind to be the same as 
the absence of any cognitive interest in objects of the world. 
Cognitive interest in the world may exist in the lower form 
without the scientific frame of mind. Indeed, when the cognitive 
interest is at a low level the practical interest is equally at a 
low level. The practical interest is at no stage of man's life, so 
far as we know it, all-absorbing. And even where it is primary 
this does not exclude the presence of the other as a secondary 
interest. Nor is there any proof that cognitive interest is 
engaged at first solely on behalf of the practical. The truth 
rather is that from the first the practical and the cognitive 
interest play into each other's hands ; they act and react on each 
other, and each maintains its own specific place in the economy 
of the human mind. This can be demonstrated from the study 
of early society quite as much as from the study of early child- 


selected part of the objective world. In its normal form this re- 
lation between the object and the mind is perhaps best expressed 
by saying that the mind is drawn on as a lover to the object of 
love. It is as if the world of objects played upon the energy of 
the mind as a chord of sound awakens the response of the musical 
ear, the subject and the object making a single indissoluble ex- 
perience of felt unity. The mind at this stage no more questions 
the certainty of its union with the object which arouses this 
attitude, than it questions its own existence. All doubts and 
questions come later, and even when they arise they are awakened 
in the interest of the unity which at first is merely felt. Indeed, 
one might say that but for the completeness of this emotional 
union with the object, the further course of analysis and interpre- 
tation, in which the process of knowledge consists, would hardly 
go on at all. Nothing stops an emotion except another and a 
contrary emotion ; and emotion is so much of a mere mental 
state or conscious fact that sceptical considerations or purely 
intellectual questions are powerless to affect its actuality or its 
certainty. It is perhaps just in the interests of the fuller realisa- 
tion of the operation of knowledge that the cognitive attitude 
thus starts to an emotion. The emotional attitude may be the 
mental cause, in the order of man's spirit, of the further mental 
effort, which man exerts with such unvarying tenacity, to prosecute 
the progress of knowledge ; while, on the other hand, the fulfilment 
of the mind by this process may be the end or reason for the 
existence of the emotion. However this may be, the emotional 
attitude is the primal certainty of the mind's union with its 
object : it foreshadows and anticipates the more explicit form of 
unity which the articulate process of knowledge seeks to bring 
about ; it remains the measure of the unity which the mind seeks 
to establish ; and it is not abolished by the further process of 
knowledge, but merely developed into a complete state of mind. 
That is why we never find ourselves satisfied with any kind of 
knowledge which fails to give at least as great a sense of harmony 
of the mind with its object as was felt at the start of the process ; 
and we regard with distrust an issue of the process of knowledge 
which has no emotional value for us at all, or which fails entirely 
to give a sense of buoyancy and freedom to the spirit in its 


relation to its world. 1 It is for this reason that th'e intellectual 
articulation of the relation of the mind to its object breaks off 
when the emotional attitude is no longer sustained, a result 
which may be brought about either by the incapacity of the 
mind to continue the process of articulation beyond a certain 
point, or by the articulative process failing to keep the emotional 
attitude alive. There is always a certain apparent arbitrariness 
or even caprice in the mind's relation to its object : the relation- 
ship is always vital and spontaneous, not mechanical and despotic. 
As the emotional attitude begins spontaneously and, in that sense, 
arbitrarily, so it may be arrested in the same way and at any 
point. And the reason is obvious. The mind's relation to its 
object is from the first for the sake of fulfilment ; if this is not or 
does not seem likely to be secured beyond a certain point, the 
individual readily breaks off the connection. This is accepted in 
our experience as a familiar condition of knowledge. The 
prosecution of knowledge is not a matter of the momentum of 
the will : nor is it a matter of mere resolution. It is a matter of 
choice, as its very beginning involves the element of selection. 
An individual who holds on his course when all emotional value 
in the pursuit of his knowledge has ceased, we regard not as 
healthy-minded but as obsessed ; his mind has become mechan- 
ised. Where and when the point of arrestment takes place, will 
depend on each individuality, and will vary from one individual 
to another. Sometimes it is due to reasons, sometimes to 
causes. An individual breaks off because he is no longer 
interested ; another because he is exhausted ; another for want of 
energy of character or of nature. 2 

We have already anticipated the second point. The emotion 
does not merely start the process of knowledge but controls it 
throughout its course. The realisation of the cognitive attitude 
to an object is in many respects like the realisation of the 
practical attitude to an object ; and in particular closely resembles 

1 Mr. Bradley remarks : " I would not rest tranquilly in a truth if I were com- 
pelled to regard it as hateful." 

2 Towards the close of his life Huxley is said to have had in his grasp after long 
study the clue to the classification of fishes, but a species of intellectual ennui seemed 
to restrain or prevent him from working it out systematically. A similar experience 
is not uncommon amongst strenuous intellectual workers. 


the process of artistic production which is perhaps the pre- 
eminent form of practical activity. 1 In the latter case the 
carrying out of the purpose in detail reacts at once on the 
emotional attitude towards the purpose itself, commits the mind 
more and more to the purpose, concentrates the mind further in 
that direction and intensifies interest in it far more deeply than 
is experienced at the outset. The emotion glows more vividly 
as the purpose grows towards realisation under the hands of the 
artist. So in the case of knowledge. No sooner is the articula- 
tion of the meaning of the object begun than the emotion 
becomes more accentuated ; the mind thereby becomes more 
concentrated ; anticipation of satisfaction is heightened, while this 
increased emotional union with the object carries the mind further 
forward along the process of articulation. The mind by becoming 
more fully aware of its unity with the object is committed more 
deeply to keeping up and realising what is involved in that 
relation with the object, which constitutes the experience of 
knowing. The more the individual mind is engaged the more 
does it bring all the powers in its possession to bear on the 
development of the relationship ; and, on the other hand, the 
more docs it selectively isolate the object under consideration. 
These two go together, and give rise to the rejection of what is 
irrelevant, the picking out of what is relevant, the discovery of 
resemblances and differences. The maintenance of the unity of 
the individual mind in the midst of the increased consciousness 
of the distinct elements in the object which concentration brings 
to light, leads to the gradual integration, by concept or law, of the 
distinct elements into a single unified object which is the counter- 
part of the individuality of the mind. 

The questions how long the process goes on, how far the in- 
dividual can proceed, and how fully the process can be realised 
these vary from individual mind to individual mind. As we say, 
the mind will find in the world what the mind has the power to 
discover there. The resources and equipment of the mind 
determine in large measure the extent of its grasp of the object. 

1 Meaning by practical activity the moulding of the object by the individual in 
terms of an end drawn from the individual mind and not constitutive of the nature of 
the object itself. 


In knowledge at any rate it is true, or rather it is a truism^ that 
the world is what thought can make it or make of it. The 
emotional union of some minds with an object is slight and 
superficial. That it is so is, however, only found out by experience. 
As the individual proceeds to articulate his union with the object, 
he often finds he has little power to keep up the relationship ; 
the effort to do so is unsupported by innate mental equipment ; 
failure to advance lowers the intensity of the initial emotion, and 
the cognitive attitude is arrested long before the full meaning of 
the object is obtained. The individual, moreover, admits the 
failure and gives up the search. The process of knowing is 
always in that sense a process of self-discovery, as indeed is also 
practical activity. We can see, too, from the foregoing that the 
labour of understanding requires for its success something more 
than enthusiasm for knowledge, and philosophy something more 
than the love of wisdom. 

This influence of the emotional attitude on the course of 
articulate knowledge is seen in the most abstract as well as in 
the most concrete sciences. It does not merely show itself in the 
determination not to be defeated in the mental struggle with the 
object, which leads to resourcefulness in method of procedure 
and adaptability of mind to the varying character of the object 
considered. These are indeed important evidences of the opera- 
tion of the non-rational element of emotion ; and they are 
sometimes of greater significance in the development of the truth 
than merely logical rules. 1 Nor does it appear merely in the 
emotional energy of the moral nature of the individual agent 
seeking the truth. This is certainly an important factor, and 
inseparable from the pursuit of knowledge. In some cases, at any 
rate, the moral end may even " dictate to us the pursuit (of truth) 
and set limits to that pursuit . . . how far and how long it is 
right to follow truth, ... to some extent the kind of truth . . . 
which I should ignore or should follow." 2 The emotional 
element is also seen in a peculiarly interesting manner in the 
mere love of form and symmetry, which plays such a large part 

1 " The straight line of pure logic has but meagre resources, and resourcefulness 
is the soul of all progress." Merz, History of European Thought, vol. ii. p. 732. 

2 Bradley, Essays on Truth and Reality -, p. 88. 


in mathematical investigation, in the enthusiasm for consistency in 
thinking, the joy in clear, transparent thought, and the sober de- 
light in sound work. These are not logical conditions of accuracy of 
articulate intellectual procedure ; they are emotional conditions of 
logical accuracy, and inseparable from its realisation. The mental 
activity of pursuing abstract knowledge is suffused with emotion, 
and becomes more efficient when the emotion is unimpeded in 
its flow, and less efficient if the emotion is impeded or arrested. 1 
Without this emotional element the pursuit of articulate 
intellectual unity of the mind with its object would lose its 
mental value altogether. It is not that the desire for truth 
makes truth what we want it to be, but that without the desire 
for truth, without the emotional relation of the mind to its object, 
we should never want truth at all. The emotion does not dictate 
the rules for the intellectual articulation of the object ; it energises 
the process of carrying out and fulfilling these rules. The emotion 
may be " disinterested " as regards the ultimate issue, but is none 
the less emotion on that account. When it is said that scientific 
minds seek to " observe coolly/' " to analyse without emotion," 
and do not "view the world through the distorting medium of 
their own desires," 2 it is evident that emotion is here confused 
with private passion. For the very term "coolly" obviously 
involves emotion in the strict sense : it is impossible to speak of 
the intellect as " cool " unless by giving the intellect an emotional 
non-rational mental quality. The same writer comes more 
closely in touch with actual experience, though at the cost of 
consistency with his own statement above quoted, when, speaking 
of metaphysical truth, he says that those will be more likely to 
discover it who " combine the hopefulness, patience, and open- 
mindedness of science with something of the Greek feeling for 
beauty in the abstract world of logic and for the ultimate 
intrinsic value in the contemplation of truth." 3 Such a frame of 
mind is saturated with emotion : even " the intrinsic value in the 
contemplation of truth " means nothing but the realisation of a 
mental state in which the emotional attitude towards the object 
of knowledge is fulfilled. 4 

1 Cp. Aristotle, Ethics, x. 5. 8 Russell, Scientific Method, p. 20. 3 /#/., p, 29. 
4 It has often been noted that the enthusiasm for logical analysis and logical 



Important as the influence of emotion is on the direction and 
course of knowledge, there are other non-logical factors at work 
which as certainly control its operation. Of these, imagination 
and memory are the most prominent and familiarly recognised, 
The activity of the logical intellect is impossible without their 
co-operation in the process of knowledge, and yet they are in no 
way governed by the rules of logical procedure. Imagination in 
one or other of its forms seems to play a role in the knowledge of 
non-mental objects independent of us, similar to that which sym- 
pathy plays in our conscious communion with other minds. With- 
out the capacity to " put ourselves at the point of view " of objects 
without us, no effective intellectual grasp of the object seems 
possible. 1 And the difference between one mind and another 
lies largely in the extent to which this power can be exercised. 
The imaginative synthesis of an object, the consciousness of it as 
an imagined whole, seems, indeed, mainly what we work with in 
carrying on the process of understanding it. The success with 
which we can make such a synthesis will govern the course of 
our knowledge. The degree of success varies greatly with 
different individuals, and even in the same individual at different 
stages in his mental development. Sometimes it is hardly 
distinguishable from a " fancy " ; at other times it approximates 
to a vivid and accurate "intuition," when the object in its 
totality is as transparent to the mind as an illuminated object to 
the eye. Some men have this power of effective, constructive 
imagination to an extraordinary degree, others hardly have it at 
all. The difference between a mind "gifted" for understanding 
any type of objects, such as space and number, and a mind not so 

construction has its roots in the highly emotional attitude of mysticism. One of the 
most prominent writers ;on philosophy at the present time once remarked that he 
had a " passion for logic." Curiously enough it did not seem to occur to him 
that such a personal factor as "passion" must qualify in important ways the value 
of his philosophical conclusions. It is also interesting to note that he is held to 
be a representative of " intellectualism." 

1 The remarkable success of Fabre's genius in interpreting insect life seems 
mainly due to this capacity. 


gifted) lies just in the possession of this highly specialised 
function. Most men of average intelligence can with effort follow 
a connected train of reasoning with tolerable success. But the 
leaders and pioneers in a field of investigation are those who 
seem to grasp imaginatively what the whole situation is before 
the process of logical connectedness is begun. The logical pro- 
cedure seems little more than a form of translation into the 
language of symbol or of words, for the purpose of fixing in order 
and communicating to others, the context of what is fully grasped 
by the comprehensive sweep of the imagination. It seems as if 
there were, so to say, a mental affinity between the minds of 
some men and the objects in which they are cognitively interested, 
an affinity which enables them to commune with the object from 
the inside, to anticipate its procedure, and to reveal its inner 
secret. They are unable by any logical process to explain how 
they arrive at the centre of the object with which they are con- 
cerned ; and by no merely logical procedure can any one not so 
endowed accomplish what they achieve by this intimate quasi- 
instinctive communion. They " see " the whole vividly and 
apparently with unerring assurance, and their process of reasoning 
seems mainly undertaken to elucidate and confirm this initial 
vision. 1 

The imaginative grasp of the object anticipates, in one way, 
the slower and more detailed comprehension of the object 
which the logically connected system supplies ; in another way, 
it operates as a guide to the gradual articulation of the object 
by purely intellectual procedure. In either case it controls the 
process of thought proper. This holds of all knowledge to 
some extent. But the more concrete the objects investigated, 
the more in short the object approximates to the complex 
solidity of spiritual life, the more is knowledge dependent on 

1 We have a closely analogous experience in the case of the natural or trained 
expert in practical life. lie can " picture beforehand" exactly what will happen; 
or visualise precisely the whole situation with which he has to deal : and no 
reasoning for or against his view of the whole seems to affect the certainty or accuracy 
of his insight. All teachers must be familiar with the fact that the real difficulty in 
teaching is not to get a process of reasoning understood, but to engage the imagina- 
tion of the pupil in the subject, and that the limit of effective instruction is reached 
when the imagination fails or is lacking altogether. 


the effective use of the imagination. No mind can expect to 
cope with the richer realities of experience if it 

"wants that glorious faculty assigned 
To elevate the more than reasoning mind. 

Imagination is that sacred power." 1 

Men differ far more in imaginative grasp than in capacity 
for reasoning ; for reasoning is in essence a social creation or 
a socialising function. Both etymologically and in fact "logical " 
procedure is inseparably bound up with the intersubjunctive 
intercourse by which society is sustained, and which is carried 
on to such a large extent by the use of articulate speech a 
purely social invention. The reasoning powers of individuals 
are developed by communicating ideas ; and defects in one 
individual can by the same process be corrected or supple- 
mented by another. 2 

Imagination is not thus socially constituted. It owes its 
quality to the natural endowment of the individual and its 
activity to its vital relationship with real beings. 

In the process of knowledge imagination seems to perform a 
function within the realm of ideas similar to that performed by 
an organ of perception in the region of sense. In the perceptual 
grasp of the object, the apprehended object is kept steadily before 
the mind while reflective interest is concentrated upon it. This 
closely resembles the imaginative grasp of an object during 
the process of understanding. Indeed, a function of this kind 
seems certainly required, unless all reflective knowledge be 
limited to an analysis and interpretation of objects derived from 
mere sense perception ; and the higher levels of the human mind 
cannot be said to be so limited. The higher realities of ex- 
perience are in no way confined to the region of perception, and 
hardly seem in certain cases to hold of perception at all. The 
inter-relation of this function of imagining an object with that of 
reflective understanding of the same object is doubtless very 
close : but the distinction, nevertheless, between the two seems 

1 Wordsworth. 

2 Hence it is that " rational intelligibility " implies in practice a reference to an 
average or typical level of intelligence a level established by social intercourse, and 
in fact, varying with social development. 


clearly recognisable, 1 and appears in the course of the process 
of knowledge. This inter-relation is apparently the mental 
source of hypothesis, suggestion, and tentative connection in 
which the earlier stages of orderly connected knowledge consist. 
These seem, so to say, the intermediate stages in reducing the 
totality presented to imagination to the detailed articulate 
coherence of logical reflection. 

Besides imagination, intellectual procedure has to reckon 
with memory, which is also non-logical in its operation. In a 
sense we may say that the intellect is at the mercy of memory, 
not merely in the general way that, without memory, knowledge 
could neither be accumulated nor carried on, but in the special 
way that accuracy and precision of retentiveness is the basis of 
sound judgment at any stage in the process of knowledge. In 
making the simplest scientific statement, the mind has to draw 
on the reservoir of memory for its terms, its images, and its 
" facts/' When we bear in mind the extraordinary complexity 
of most scientific knowledge, we can see the importance of the role 
played by memory in carrying on its process. It is merely the 
ease and the familiarity with which the process as a whole takes 
place, which makes us normally unconscious of the operation of 
memory throughout. The process of our attention is engaged 
on the logical connection of thought to the exclusion of what is 
for this purpose irrelevant or subsidiary j and we are apt to 
suppose that what is not clearly before our minds is not affecting 

1 Thus, if we examine our actual experience we find that, in thinking about an 
object, whether the object be quite well understood or be given for the first time as 
an object for consideration, we must have an imaginative presentation of the object 
as a whole at least in relatively dim outline, before we can effectively begin to deal 
with it by way of reflective analysis. And the object so presented must be kept 
relatively steady before the mind while reflection goes on. The process is like 
that of a speaker who is addressing an audience on some topic. He sees before his 
mind what he wants to expound, and his words are arranged to convey in sequence 
what he pictures in its totality all the while he is speaking. We have an analogous 
experience in artistic production. The whole is grasped imaginatively before it is 
translated into sense form. Wagner remarked in a letter, " I see only internal images 
which try to realise themselves in sound. . . . My poetical conceptions have always been 
produced at such a distance from experience that I must consider the whole moral 
formation of my mind as caused by these conceptions. The Flying Dutchman^ 
Tannhauser, Lohengrin, the Niebdungen, Wodan, all existed in my head before I saw 
them in experience." See Combarieu : Music ^ its Laws and Evolution. 


the process. Only when a check occurs in the course of our 
thinking, when we cannot " find the right word," when we do not 
express what we " mean," or when we find we have overlooked 
an essential element in the case, are we reminded of the conjoint 
activity of such a function as memory in securing the success of 
our effort to understand. If we may employ metaphors, the 
operation of memory is to the logical procedure of the intellect 
what an instrument is to the operator, or an organised business 
concern to the head of the firm, or a general staff to the 
commander in the field. The formation of the memory 
continuum, the power and accuracy of retention, the alertness 
and suggestibility of memory, owe nothing to the rules of 
logic, but are regulated by other mental laws and conditions. 

The close connection of memory with intellectual procedure 
is seen very markedly in the different degrees of intellectual 
efficiency between different individuals. It is not want of logical 
capacity which prevents some minds advancing in knowledge, 
but defective capacity to retain what has come clearly before 
consciousness. While the range of one individual's memory 
will increase his power for effective reflection, another individual, 
through sheer defect in retentiveness, will proceed to give an 
intellectual construction which he would never have undertaken 
had he been endowed with a better memory ; while others, 
again, will try to fill up by imagination the gaps " felt " to exist 
in the memory train. 1 


Besides the non-logical functions already mentioned, it is 
worth noting that each logical intellect itself has a peculiar 
quality which greatly influences its procedure. An intellect has 
what I may call a certain calibre, which definitely affects its 
range and its penetration into what it deals with. We describe 
this peculiarity when we speak of the " subtlety," the " precision," 

1 Other aspects of memory as they affect knowledge need not perhaps be men- 
tioned here, e.g. how the " effort to remember " will diminish the effort to reflect. I 
wish in the above merely to call attention to the main point the essential 
necessity of this non-logical function in the process of knowledge. I have dealt 
elsewhere with other problems in connection with memory. See Chap. IV. 


the "teach," or again the "complexity" of a man's intellect. 
Some intellects seem incapable of making clear distinctions; 
some are incapable of holding distinctions together when made. 
This vitally affects their whole procedure. They will accept, as 
self-evident, statements which to another type of intellect seem 
obscure or unintelligible ; and, again, statements will appear 
contradictory which are not so, or not contradictory which are 
so. Problems will thus arise which are not properly formulated ; 
and problems will be created which to another intellect are not 
problems at all but are mere misunderstandings of the actual 
situation. This is particularly frequent in the case of philosophy, 
where, especially in the more complex realities of experience, 
the greatest difficulty just consists in correctly making and 
formulating a valid distinction. A wrong step at the outset will 
start a thinker in the pursuit of a problem which would not exist 
but for the initial mistake. 1 The history of science is similarly 
strewn with the wrecks of futile solutions of unnecessary 
problems due to the restricted powers of the intellect of in- 
dividuals. From one point of view it may be said that scientific 
progress has largely been due to an intellect of later date 
drawing and holding firmly a distinction which to an intellect 
of an earlier date had no existence. Doubtless the advance was 
made possible by acquaintance with the errors into which the 
less capable intellect fell ; but the advance was partly brought 
about by the increased concentration of the intellect on the 
subject which the inheritance of scientific knowledge fosters. 
Some of the greatest steps in the progress of science have been 
made by a later mind thus drawing a vital distinction which was 
unknown or unrecognised by an early investigator in the same 
domain. 2 But we need not appeal to the history of philosophy 

1 One need but recall the fundamental distinctions from which the speculations of 
Descartes, or again of Berkeley, started to illustrate this point. 

2 A good illustration of this is provided by the early history of mathematics. 
Pythagoras maintained that spatial position, a point, had a certain size. Later 
mathematicians evolved the conception of pure spatial position, and sharply dis- 
tinguished position and magnitude. This step was formulated by Euclid in his 
definition of a point. The advance in itself and in its consequences was enormous. 
The logical puzzle over Achilles and the tortoise could have had no meaning for 


or of science to substantiate the contention that intellects differ 
qualitatively. The difference between the intellect of a child 
and an adult, of a pupil and a master, of a layman and an 
expert, of a savage and the highly civilised, does not consist 
simply in the amount which each respectively knows nor in their 
opportunity to know, but in their very power to know and 
understand. Nor can it be maintained that if all the different 
kinds of intellect were sufficiently mature, or sufficiently trained 
and educated, they would all think with the same degree of 
penetration and connectedness. For it is impossible to say what 
a " mature " intellect is, unless we arbitrarily define it as an 
intellect fully capable of grasping the subject considered, and in 
that case very few of even the best intellects would deserve the 
appellation, while some intellects are mature at a very early stage 
in life. As for education, one of the most familiar facts of 
education is that it is a process of differentiating intellects from 
one another, and that for the great majority of intellects a stage 
is reached beyond which the individual is incapable of making 
any further advance. Nor do we find that intellects of relatively 
equal training and knowledge either think in the same way or 
agree in their intellectual procedure. The disputes of con- 
temporary philosophers and scientists have been and still are the 
jibe of the uninitiated. Men seem as if they possessed a 
different sense of contradiction. Propositions which seem palpably 
absurd to one intellect will seem luminously intelligible to 
another. All the rules of logical reasoning will fail to establish 
agreement where men differ in their use of the principle of 
contradiction ; and will prove as useless as an appeal to the 
organ of vision to settle the difference between two individuals 
who see colours differently. 

Not merely do intellects differ in penetration and precision, 
but in the scope of their comprehension and in their sense of 
logical continuity or connectedness. The compass of most men's 
understanding is pathetically limited, and even of the best in- 
tellects painfully restricted. If it were true, as is erroneously 
held, that the intellect has but to follow its rules and steer a 
straight course and the secrets of the world will be disclosed to 
human gaze, science and philosophy would have found their 


America long ere now. What the individual finds, however, is that 
in his scientific activity there is a perpetual conflict between his aims 
and his intellectual limitations ; and in the issue the limitations 
triumph and his aims are but aspirations. We sometimes speak 
as if the main or only restrictions imposed on intellectual achieve- 
ment were the brevity of years. We are not so fortunately en- 
dowed : if we were, a man could carry on where another left off, 
and in the long run the human intellect would arrive. In fact, 
we are circumscribed on every hand, and bounds seem set to the 
operation of each man's intellect beyond which he seems utterly 
unable to pass. The radius of each man's intellectual horizon 
differs from one to another ; but an horizon it remains in each 
case. 1 And within this scope his intellectual processes take 
place. He finds by experiment and experience that his intellect 
is incapable of grasping a certain kind of reality, a certain degree 
of complexity, a certain range of detail, either completely or 
at all. 2 

A similar diversity between individuals is found in their sense 
of logical cogency, or conceptual continuity. Even in the most 
abstract sciences men differ in their capacity to appreciate and 
formulate rigorously exact reasoning ; and in the more concrete 

1 This has led some philosophers to maintain that the human intellect as such 
is limited or conditioned ; and they proceed to discuss the conditions within which 
knowledge is possible, and beyond which it must make use of other powers 
to supplement these natural limitations. But if we discuss the absolute limitatio n 
of human intellect we are thereby claiming to be outside those very limitations. 
These philosophers are but generalising the experience which each man as a fact has 
of his own limitations. 

2 When we consider the great importance which men attach to the activity of the 
intellect, and the ceaselessly renewed efforts and failures to understand which recur 
generation after generation, it is most remarkable to find that the one function of the 
human soul which seems for ever destined to remain imperfectly adapted to the world 
is human thought. His organs of perception seem perfectly adjusted to the real. 
His emotional responses seem adequate to their purpose. In his moral life he can 
secure practical stability of will. In his religious experience, he can obtain an en- 
during peace of spirit. Even in art he can achieve consummate joy. But his intellect 
seems for ever haunted by the sense of defeat, harried by doubts and questions, rest- 
less in its pursuit of a truth which escapes his grasp. In terms of evolution it would 
appear as if the intellect were just sufficiently evolved to start problems, but not 
sufficiently evolved as yet to find solutions. Is it that the world is a riddle to the 
intellect, or that the intellect makes a riddle of the world ? 


sciences the form of conceptual connection seems to vary from 
individual to individual. This diversity is not due solely to the 
limitations of language to express thought. The sense of 
evidence, the degree of credulity, the accessibility to rationally 
constituted conviction, differs from mind to mind. The power to 
give conceptions the unified order of an inevitable sequence of 
thought can only be described as a special gift, which few possess 
in any sphere of knowledge and none possess beyond a limited 
degree. One man can be satisfied by a chain of reasoning which 
to another seems utterly disconnected. As in optical illusions 
where a continuous circular line can apparently be formed by the 
rapid revolution of discrete sections ; so in thinking one man sees 
a continuity which to a finer insight is transparently discontinuous. 
The rules of logic are useless either to train the sense of evidence, 
or to establish agreement between different minds which differ 
in their power to connect ideas. Each seems to follow logical 
evidence in his own way and in the result to find satisfaction. 
Except on the assumption that in the very process of thought 
there lies this peculiar difference of quality in the intellect of 
individuals, it seems impossible to account for the apparently 
irreducible disagreement between intelligent minds regarding 
what is logically coherent, or for the assured satisfaction with 
which one man will accept as valid a train of reasoning which to 
another seems indefensible. 


This completer view of what is involved in the process of 
knowledge does justice to the factors to which current logic 
directs exclusive attention, and also to those equally important 
facts in the experience of knowing which current logic neglects 
or ignores. One of the most familiar characteristics of experience 
is the peculiar sense of mental elation which invariably accom- 
panies the successful prosecution of knowledge in any form. 
Knowledge liberates the individual mind, and in this freedom 
the mind at once finds itself its own constitution and com- 
position and its self-contained independence of the individual 
objects making up its world. It becomes conscious not merely 


of how to act with reference to them, but conscious of what those 
objects mean in themselves. It thereby both detaches itself 
from its world and attaches itself to its world, finds its place in 
the totality of the real. It is perhaps not too much to say that 
the acquisition of this sense of freedom is a dominating interest 
in the whole process of knowledge. Certainly without the 
attainment of this mental condition, knowledge would hardly be 
worth the effort it entails. We do not undertake knowledge at 
the command of some external fate, nor out of consideration for 
the object. Fate is too impartial in its authority ; but the 
pursuit of knowledge to its utmost is a matter of choice. The 
justification for knowing is that the attainment of it liberates our 
spirits along the ways of order and coherence, and in our liberty 
we find the joy of life. We need not be surprised, therefore, that 
the pursuit of knowledge becomes tedious, uninteresting, and 
valueless when it no longer creates the sense of fulfilment which 
we call satisfaction : nor that many, realising this, take the 
feeling co-efficient of the activity of knowing as a final test of 
truth itself. And when we contrast the early stages of the 
cognitive relation of the mind to its world with the last, the con- 
tention just put forward is amply confirmed. The earliest 
interest of man in the world about him is largely suffused with 
fear and misgiving and mere wonderment. Without the equip- 
ment or the capacity to advance further, his imagination tends to 
minister to his dread. Only when the articulating activity of the 
intellect is brought into operation, giving him a fuller realisation 
of the meaning of the object and a greater sense of mental 
freedom accordingly, does the primitive emotion of fear give way 
to a quickened enjoyment in the comprehension of the nature of 
things. 1 Thereafter knowledge can be willingly sought " for its 
own sake/' i.e. as an avenue to the attainment of mental satisfac- 
tion and nothing further. 

In the larger and more ambitious efforts of knowledge, 
the significance of emotion and imagination, and of the special 
mental composition of the individual, is not less but even more 
evident than it is in those cases where the mind is engaged with 
comparatively narrow spheres of fact. The greater the range of 

1 Cp. Humboldt, Cosmos , vol. i. p. 15 flT. 



objects with which we seek to establish mental union, the more 
profoundly are our emotions concerned in the issue. " Our 
hearts are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the 
search and expectation of greatest and exactest things." * The 
questions set determine the kind of answers given, and 
the questions bear the imprint and quality of the personality 
which frames them. This is inevitable. The satisfaction sought 
concerns the whole cognitive attitude of the personality towards 
the world in which he is placed. In philosophy and science " it 
is for the heart to suggest our problems, it is for the intellect to 
solve them." 2 And the final solution is generally found to bear 
the stamp of the personality of the thinker. As Lotze remarks, 3 
" Except in rare cases, a prolonged philosophical labour is nothing 
else but the attempt to justify scientifically a fundamental view 
of things which has been adopted in early life." 4 Elaborate and 
complicated arguments are brought into play whose selection and 
development are controlled by assumptions which are mainly 
emotional in origin and character. Reason in such cases is little 
more than the mailed champion of the passions. Failure to win 
satisfaction means nothing less than misery. 5 Doubtless in 
general it is true that " logic rests on postulates which must be 
connected with the action of a will which affirms existence." 6 
But in philosophy in particular logical procedure is largely an 
affirmative of the will of a specific personality which resolves to 
secure its own individual existence. And this largely deter- 
mines its final conclusions. " A distinction is sometimes made 
between those who are pessimists by temperament and those 
who are pessimists on purely theoretic grounds as the result 
of dispassionate inquiry and conviction : but in truth I doubt 
if there has ever been a pronounced pessimist who could 
be placed in the latter class alone." 7 Most philosophers of the 

1 Milton, Arcopagitica. 

2 Comte, Polttique positive. 

3 Cp. Merz, History of European Thought^ vol. ii. p. 515. 

4 This recalls with a new significance the aphorism of Goethe, " Was man in der 
Jugend wiinscht hat man im Alter die Fiille." 

* Cp. Cournot : Enchainement des Idles fondamentalts, Liv. iv. I. 

Boutroux : " Certitude et Verite," B.A. Transactions. 
1 Ward, Realm of Ends ', p. 320. 


metaphysical type have been actuated either by the passion for 
intellectual symmetry on a great scale, which in its essence is 
closely akin to the artistic temperament, or by a craving for a 
completer realisation of the Divine Nature, which has the most 
intimate affinity with the mood and temperament of religion. 
Neither of these frames of mind is intellectual in its original 
composition, still less the product of rational reflection. They 
are emotional ; and the later development of an articulate scheme 
of reasoning is devised to satisfy the primary and constitutionally 
spontaneous emotional attitude to the world. This is frankly 
acknowledged in so many words by those philosophers who 
consider the influences which move them in the quest for the 
whole truth. " With certain persons the intellectual effort to 
understand the universe is a principal way of experiencing the 
Deity. No one, probably, who has not felt this, however 
differently he may describe it, has ever cared much for meta- 
physics. And wherever it has been felt strongly, it has been its 
own justification. The man whose nature is such that by one 
path alone his chief desire will reach consummation will try to 
find it on that path, whatever it may be, and whatever the world 
thinks of it ; and if he does not, he is contemptible." l The 
spectator of all time and all existence desires to have such a 
Pisgah vision because in the first instance he is an intoxicated 
lover of the world. 2 The imposing structure of an elaborately 
planned system of carefully chiselled categories is inspired by an 
emotional interest in symmetrical arrangement similar in kind to 
that which gives rise to the noblest monuments of architecture : 
instead of a cathedral in stone, hewn from the rocks of nature, 
there is constructed a temple of thoughts cut from the substance 
of the human mind, a building animated by the very spirit of the 
builder and all the more adapted on that account to be the 
habitation of the worshipper. 

It need not be supposed that the pre-established harmony 
between the philosopher's initial attitude and the final deliverance 
destroys the value of the truth he seeks and finds. The course 
he follows in a sense takes the form of a circle ; but a circular 

1 Bradley, Appearance and Rfality, Introduction. 
* Cp. Pater, Plato and Platonism^ c. 6. 


argument is the best because the strongest, if the circle is really 
complete. All knowledge, even that of the special sciences, aims 
at being circular, at finding a conclusion which is not merely in 
agreement with, but confirmatory of, the premises. The scientist 
who starts from facts of perception and proceeds towards an 
interpretation, becomes satisfied with his course of thought, if his 
conclusion, when " tested " by the " facts," is supported by what 
they reveal, if, in a word, he can link up the end of his thought 
with its beginning. The philosopher follows the same career on 
a larger scale. His initial emotional attitude to the world corre- 
sponds to the datum of the special scientist, and embodies the 
primary demands which his individual mind makes upon a world 
become intelligible. These demands have their roots in the 
very life of his mind, and expect to be sustained likewise in the 
atmosphere of a clarified intelligence. In a sense an emotional 
attitude to the world as a whole may be but a latent intuition of 
the complete truth in which the mind is always fulfilled and 
satisfied ; and perhaps it may be that the higher intuition into 
the fullness of truth is but the mental prius, which itself awakens 
the initial emotional attitude and draws the mind on towards its 

But the individual agent in knowing is not altogether left to 
himself in framing either his initial attitude in knowledge or the 
course of his knowledge. The emotional frame of his mind is 
checked, guided, and sustained by the social milieu in which he 
finds himself and by the social composition of his mind. The 
individual cannot help thinking as a representation of a collective 
social consciousness. The process of externalising his thought 
in language is under the control of the social spirit from the 
first. Indeed, the externalisation of mental processes in social 
institutions and in language is the main concern of social life, 
and perhaps the achievement of most interest in man's life on 
earth. 1 This interpenetration of mind by mind in society exerts 
the profoundest influence on the whole attitude of the individual, 
cognitive as well as practical. It is in large measure the source 
of the pre-judgments which affect every individual in the course 
of his knowledge. It decides largely what he shall be interested 

1 Cp. Merz, History of European Thought^ ii. 525. 


in and the way the object affects him. Certain objects of ex- 
perience have an emotional quality assigned to them by the 
traditional or accepted modes of social beings towards them ; 
and this emotional attitude the individual shares. Certain ways 
of viewing or thinking about objects have the sanction of a social 
group, and bias the individual mind accordingly. There are 
some objects which individuals, reflecting the temperament of 
their society, are unwilling even to submit to intellectual investi- 
gation at all. Their minds recoil from the attitude of knowledge, 
not because of the difficulty of carrying it out, but because of the 
reluctance to get closer to the real meaning and nature of the 
objects. Their attitude is expressed in the words : " Craignez 
bien plutot de soumettre toutes ces grandes et belles choscs au 
creuset de la raison, si vous ne voulez les voir d'abord se fletrir 
et se dess^cher." x Articulate reasoning plays such a compara- 
tively small rdle in average social experience, that individuals 
come to trust their emotional reactions and their sentiments 
rather than their powers of thought, and to find in the former 
the main channel of communion with the environing world and 
the source of all that gives value and dignity to individual life. 
Such a frame of mind impedes the development of free know- 
ledge, and checks it in its course when once it is started. In- 
tolerance of liberating thought is not, as is so often supposed, the 
peculiar prerogative of religious institutions. Social institutions 
of every sort claim a privileged authority over the individual's 
mind, and having moulded his mind in a form which secures 
a specific mental attitude favourable to corporate life, they treat 
with suspicion and even hostility the effort of individual initiative 
to obtain a completer knowledge than the institution requires for 
its stability. The particular mental attitude acquired by member- 
ship in the institution becomes the enemy of the comprehending 
universality sought by the scientific spirit of free knowledge, and 
spontaneously carried through by the individual mind. In short, 
socially constituted beliefs, which draw their vitality largely from 
the life of emotion, supply in most cases the presuppositions and 
the prejudices, furnish the starting-points and main routes, of the 
individual's process of knowledge ; and his cognitive effort is 

1 Cournot, Enchatnement des idtesfondamentaleS) p. 373. 


conducted in accordance with them or in resistance to them. 
Hence the difficulty constantly experienced in introducing a new 
intellectual synthesis. Truth arrived at by articulate processes 
of thought is not all that the mind aims at in knowledge : the 
truth must satisfy, must give the sense of mental fulfilment, 
must create a new emotional state in which conceptual connection 
passes into the conviction of mental vision. The truth must 
be believed before the mind becomes satisfied with the process 
of knowledge, and it is often easier to establish the connected 
sequence of thought, without which many truths cannot be 
obtained, than to create the frame of mind in which conviction 
consists. 1 This last stage in the process of knowledge is always 
the most difficult to obtain, just because it is the most important 
for the individual's mind. The history of science, and of human 
knowledge generally, abounds in illustrations of the conflict 
between the newer findings of articulate reflection and emotion- 
ally constituted anterior beliefs. We may take one example of 
the many which make up so large a part of the half-tragic, half- 
comic spectacle of man's struggle for enlightenment. The 
objections urged against the theory of evolution in the middle 
of last century were not in the first instance drawn from an 
impartial examination of the facts or from considerations of 
logical consistency. They had their source in the emotional 
attitude towards human nature on the one hand and non-human 
organic and inorganic nature on the other. " Spirit and matter 
have ever been presented to us in rudest contrast, the one as 
all-noble, the other as all-vile." 2 The suggestion of continuity 
between the spirit of man and physical nature was a challenge 
to the security of a whole frame of mind, and not merely to a 
particular opinion or an abstract intellectual conception. To 
prepare the mind of the generality of people even to consider 
the suggested new interpretation of facts, it was necessary to use 
the arts of the mental physician rather than the resources of 
pure logic. An appeal was made to the wider emotions which 
actuate all pursuit of knowledge, to the desire for truth in 

1 " It is not difficult to tell the truth ; the difficulty is to get the truth believed " 
(Sir Edward Grey, in the House of Commons, 1912). 

2 Tyndall, Fragments of Science, p. 159 (1872). 


general, to the assurance that all truth will ultimately lead to 
mental satisfaction, to the mood of toleration in which all truth 
mus c s be received. The language employed sometimes by the 
most distinguished scientists to create the appropriate receptive 
attitude seems nowadays ridiculously apologetic, and would, 
indeed, be unintelligible if the pursuit of knowledge concerned 
the logical procedure of the intellect alone. It betrays a sensitive 
insight into the actual workings of the human mind, but is none 
the less a pathetic commentary on man's interest in the truth 
when a scientist of repute felt constrained to say to his audience, 
" Surely these notions (contained in the evolution hypothesis) 
represent an absurdity too monstrous to be entertained by any 
sane mind. Let us, however, give them fair play. Let us steady 
ourselves in front of the hypothesis, and, dismissing all terror 
and excitement from our minds, let us look firmly into it with 
the hard sharp eye of intellect alone. ... I do not think this 
evolution hypothesis is to be flouted away contemptuously. I 
do not think it is to be denounced as wicked. . . . Fear not the 
evolution hypothesis. Steady yourselves in its presence upon 
the faith in the ultimate triumph of truth." l In the light of the 
foregoing analysis of the process and conditions of human know- 
ledge such an appeal to a group of presumably trained minds 
finds its explanation and justification. But if justified and 
necessary, it indirectly condemns as inadequate the interpreta- 
tion of the nature of knowledge offered by those who restrict 
knowledge to purely conceptual activity, and ignore its completer 
significance as an avenue to the attainment of that mental satis- 
faction of which the formal procedure of logical articulate thought 
is but an essential condition. 2 

The issue of a process of knowledge must qualify the entire 

1 Tyndall, Fragments of Science, p. 159 (1872). 

2 In some cases the processes of reasoning are so conflicting that the issue oi the 
inquiry has to be left, or at any rate is often settled by an appeal, to feeling. A 
good illustration of this is the problem of the immortality of the individual soul. The 
reasons for and against immortality are so evenly balanced that few will be prepared 
to decide the case on grounds of reason. The failure of reason to establish a result 
becomes the opportunity of feeling to insist on its claims to determine the issue. 
And for most people their emotional interest in the result does settle the question ; 
and with this procedure reason, at any rate, can find no fault. 


composition of the individual's mind, if its purpose as a realisation 
of vital mental energy is to be fulfilled. In this contention lies 
the truth of the sensationalist view of knowledge. Knowledge 
in one of its aspects may be said to be a process from sensation 
to sensation ; its aim is to secure a more vivid and intense; sen- 
sation of the world. There is a " sane state of feeling that arises 
out of thought," just as certainly as articulate thought arises out 
of an emotional (or sensational) attitude towards an object. For 
the scientist no less than for the poet the emotional coefficient 
of his activity is an indispensable factor in the evolution of the 
mind's cognitive relation to its object. Truth does not consist 
simply in the agreement of conceptual thought with reality : for 
the mind and the reality are not in disagreement tc start with. 
Truth lies in the attainment of a conscious state in which the 
energy of the mind is raised to a level of individual conscious 
freedom, realised at once as mental vision, enjoyment, and self- 
completeness of individuality. 



'* Our knowledge is founded on inexperience : it is converted into experience by 
memory." S. BUTLER. 

yiyverai 5' K rfjs /xvrj/njs t/j.ireipla rots avdpcatrois. 


THE problem I wish to consider is the character of the con- 
tribution which memory makes to the series of judgments 
constituting human knowledge. For the purpose of the analysis 
we must presuppose the psychic development of the so-called 
memory-continuum, which is obviously a gradual and a complex 
product of psychic activity. We shall also regard as subordinate 
to our primary interest the various forms of our memory experi- 
ence, recollection, reminiscence, remembrance, and reverie, to 
name only the most familiar. Of still less importance from our 
point of view is the discussion of the question, in itself rather 
futile, whether the exercise of memory implies an innate or an 
acquired function of mental life. And we shall not deal with 
the psychic conditions of the memory process, retention, repro- 
duction, persistence of images or ideas, and the like. Our 
problem is logical, not psychological, and starts from the 
assumption that the judgment " I remember this or that " has 
a definite meaning and conveys a specific amount of knowledge, 
whatever be the psychic processes and conditions involved in the 

This judgment is specifically different from any other kind oi 
knowledge, however closely allied to it certain other forms of 
knowledge, e.g. recognition, or again re- knowing, may be. The 



main point of difference is that in a memory-judgment the object 
to which direct reference is made is always and solely the past. 
Every other judgment deals directly either with the present, the 
future, or, as in the case of abstract reasoning, has no time 
reference at all. 1 

The problem seems important on general grounds. It has 
been long held that the analysis of knowledge is concerned in the 
first instance, or even exclusively, with the judgments which refer 
to the world as it is about us in the living present and as it may 
be expected to be in the near or just remote future. So much has 
this view prevailed that some have taken judgments of perception 
to be prior both in time and logical importance to all other kinds 
and stages of knowledge. Emphasis on the present leads half-un- 
consciously to over-emphasis on the knowledge which is peculiarly 
present knowledge, viz. perception, and more particularly 
perception of the external world. This to some extent accounts 
for the place which discussion of the nature of external perception 
has occupied and still occupies in British philosophy. But it 
seems clear that unless this primary or exclusive emphasis on the 
judgments which concern the living present is the result of a 
reasoned theory, the assumption of their prior importance for 
knowledge can only be regarded as a prejudice or personal 
conviction. When we observe that we are constantly re- 
ferring to the larger and, as life proceeds, the ever-increasing 
domain of the past with as much relative assurance as we refer 
to our present situation, the acceptance of the judgments con- 
cerning the present as our only starting point for the study of 
knowledge seems more than 'questionable. If, again, we admit 
that judgments concerning the past have at least primd facie 
equal validity with those concerning the present, and are certainly 
distinct in form or kind from the latter more especially if the 
judgments referring to the present are identified with external 
perception, then we are compelled to broaden the basis of our 

1 I take it for granted that the difference between a past object and a present 
object will be accepted as fundamental, and that knowledge in the present and 
knowledge about the present are also clearly distinguishable. Assuming these 
distinctions no one will confuse the analysis of an actual experience, e.g. a tooth- 
ache, with the analysis of an experience known by memory, e.g. the toothache as 
located in the past. 


investigation into the nature of knowledge, and cannot accept 
any theory which regards judgments of external perception as 
the model, still less as the standard, of all true knowledge. It is, 
doubtless, obvious that a judgment regarding the past takes place 
in the present, as indeed do our judgments regarding the future. 
But a judgment in the present is not necessarily a judgment of 
or referring to the present. If there is no distinction between 
these two statements then knowledge must always be an affair 
of the passing moment ; and if this were true, there can be no 
escape from either solipsism or intellectual scepticism. That it 
cannot be true seems evident from the fact that we cannot even 
speak of a judgment in the present, much less of the present, 
without thereby distinguishing sharply between present and past, 
and thus giving some independent existence to the past and 
independent validity to judgments referring to the past. If this 
be granted, it is at least an assumption requiring special proof 
that judgments referring to the present have a more secure 
validity than those referring to the past. Such an assumption is 
certainly not made by common sense, which takes judgments 
regarding the past to be as much a basis of reasoning as 
judgments regarding the present ; and the fallibility, which 
undoubtedly affects judgments regarding the past, can be 
equally found in the case of judgments regarding the present, 

We start, then, from this position which common sense seems 
in point of fact to accept. Our questions regarding memory- 
judgments maybe reduced to three. What is the specific nature 
of the object to which these judgments refer ? What is the 
character of these judgments ? And lastly we shall ask, What 
kind of value and certainty have these judgments ? 

We shall keep in view throughout the parallelism which seems 
to exist at many points, though certainly not at all points, 
between the judgments of memory and those of external per- 
ception. This amounts to no more than a common-sense 
admission that in some way we may take the past to be as real 
as the present, and that a reference to our way or ways of 
knowing the present may by analogy assist us in an inquiry into 
our knowledge of the past. 



The object of memory-judgments is summarily described as 
the past. But this is indefinite and requires analysis. We do 
not in memory know the mere flow of past time, but a specific 
point or part of the past. Past time as a whole, or the past as a 
whole, may, by contrast to memory-knowledge, be called an ideal 
construction, of which memory may supply some of the pieces 
but does not give the whole composition. It is the past of 
physics and cosmology. Nor do we pretend to know by memory 
the past which every one understands and accepts in the same 
sense and with the same complex of events the past of the 
historian or the evolutionist. This is built up without any 
reference to any specific individual's direct experience ; rather 
the aim of the historian is to get rid of the individual point of 
view as such, or only to make use of it so far as it corroborates or 
is corroborated by the experience and points of view of others. 
History, in fact, is to memory what a scientific statement is to 
a private opinion. The past to which memory refers is the 
individual's own past and nothing further : the past of history 
does not directly deal with that of any particular individual at 
all. But even the individual's own past is not in every sense 
the object of memory. Some of his past operates upon his life 
effectively but is unknown to memory. The residual influences 
of previous experience, the acquired habits of thought and action, 
the colour of previous feeling, and the complex texture of the 
previous events of his life, not to speak of the heritage or 
ancestry which links his individuality to a previous generation 
or generations all these are in a strict sense his past as an 
individual, but they are not the past he remembers. For they 
all have the characteristics of being at once indefinite in their 
operation, unconscious to his thought, and incapable of being 
identified by him as facts which he ascribes to himself or 
consciously places in some part of his previous experience. 
Only when he affirms what has been as his own, as being what 
it was because he made it so, does he form the judgment " I 
remember this or that." It is the past in this sense that we 
are concerned with when speaking of the object of memory. 


It may be noted, in passing, that the reality or existence 
which we ascribe to the past of memory raises no difficulties 
which are not equally found when we speak of the reality of the 
past in any of the other senses. Whatever meaning the reality 
of the past of history or physics or cosmology may have, we 
must be equally justified in describing the past of memory as 
real : for the latter is only a particular kind of past. We do 
regard the events of history as real and not fictitious creations of 
the human mind. It is true that the lower strata of a geological 
formation were in existence before the upper strata : it is true 
that the Romans occupied Britain before the Normans appeared. 
And what is true implies a reference to reality. When we say 
the past is no longer real, all we mean is that the past is no 
longer present : and that is tautology. If we say the past was 
never real, because it no longer exists as it once was, we are 
either begging a serious question or perhaps talking nonsense. 
The reason why common sense regards the past as a reality 
is that reality is held to be continuous in its process, and all 
parts of that process are necessary to make reality what it 
fully is. If this be denied, there is no choice between illusion 
and solipsism, if that be a choice at all. If change is not a 
character of the real, the word " past " has literally no meaning. 
If change is real, then all the stages of change are states of 
reality whether they appear at one time or another, be past or 
present. What science and history do, is to build up gradually by 
an effort of interpretation the connection between the discrete parts 
or stages by which the reality considered has gone through its pro- 
cess. That this interpretation refers to reality is never questioned, 
and cannot be doubted without denying the fact of change. The 
same must apply to the past of memory. The changes through 
which the individual mind passes are as real as the individuality 
which passes through and holds together these changes. And it 
is the course or series of these changes which is referred to by 
the successive memory-judgments. 

The general character of the object of memory is, then, 
individual experience as a process of changes which have 
occurred, to which we can consciously refer, and which we claim 
as peculiarly our own. The reality to which we ultimately refer 


in such judgments, the ultimate "subject," to use the fa'miliar 
logical term, is our one individual experience, which is identical 
throughout the changes and which unites them all. Reality is 
everywhere individual, identity through diversity, whether the 
diversities appear simultaneously or successively. In our 
judgment of a present reality, its constituent elements are in 
general simultaneous ; in memory-judgments the elements are 
always successive. The actual way in which these two factors 
(identity and change) of our individual experience are blended, 
is that of continuity. This continuity of individual experience I 
take to be the essential nature of the specific object dealt with 
and referred to in memory-judgments. Every time I judge that 
this or that happened in my experience, I am affirming the 
continuity of my individual experience, and point to certain parts 
of it which have made up its content. Behind continuity no 
doubt there lies the more ultimate fact of the activity of the 
individual life which has reacted on its environment and, in so 
doing, has built up its concrete reality. But with this point, 
which is rather metaphysical than logical, we are not here 
directly concerned. It is only after this activity has operated 
through a considerable variety of changes and has fused these 
changes together, that the continuity to which memory speci- 
fically refers is effectively secured and established. 

The continuity in question is never abstract, but is filled in 
with perfectly definite elements, each with a character of its own. 
Hence it is inaccurate to say that memory-judgments prove the 
fact of the continuity of the individual life, as if continuity were 
an % abstract principle deducible from the acts of remembering. 
Memory-judgments are operations of the mind by which we 
express in the present our awareness of the continuity of our 
past with our present. In the same way it is equally inaccurate 
to say that memory assumes the fact of continuity of our 
experience. Memory-judgments no more assume the existence 
of their object than external perception assumes the existence of 
the world about us. The world about us, so far as perception 
goes, is just the object perceived : perception is one way in which 
the externally real becomes an object, i.e. enters into the sphere 
of what we call our knowledge. Similarly continuity of our 



experience is primarily the object known in memory, and there- 
fore is not postulated as being before it is known. What that 
continuity may be apart from memory, it is not for memory to 
consider, any more than it is the business of the acts of per- 
ception to decide what the world about us may be independent 
of our specific perception. In memory-judgments we become 
aware of the continuity of our individual experience ; and this is 
almost a tautology ; for being aware of our continuity is just 
what memory-judgments consist in. 

We need not, however, maintain that only in memory- 
judgments do we become aware of our continuity. It seems 
certainly true that we do have to some degree a degree varying 
from individual to individual and from time to time in the same 
individual a kind of sense or feeling of our continuity, an 
indefinite and inarticulate mental state in which different factors 
co-operate and coalesce, and to which therefore we may assign 
the term "feeling'' of continuity. The more stable our in- 
dividual mind, the more uniform its operations and responses 
to its environment, especially its emotional responses, the more 
likely are we to have a clear consciousness of this feeling of 
continuity. But while some might attach very great importance 
to this feeling in their consciousness of continuity, it does not 
conflict with but, on the contrary, may often support the memory- 
judgments. And in any case it does not take the place of 
memory, for its peculiar character lies just in being a general 
feeling, 1 and not a judgment at all, which is articulate and 
definite in its reference to some part of our experience. 2 

While the object of memory, then, is the continuity of our 
experience, memory-judgments always have a specific object as 
their content. This is selected by attention from the variety of 
content making up the continuity of our experience. This 
operation is closely analogous to what takes place in our per- 
ception of the external world. We do not perceive, e.g. by 
sight, the whole region that is visible, but select a specific object 
in the to turn visible and concentrate our attention on that. We 
perceive, in short, a visible object : the rest of the visible region 

1 Comparable to mere sensation in relation to judgments of perception. 

2 We shall refer to this again in the second stage of the analysis. 


lies round that with varying degrees of clearness and distinct- 
ness. We are aware that there is no gap between what we do 
perceive and the remainder : but the reality of the visible world 
is focussed for the time being at a particular point, the object 
perceived. So in memory-judgments. We do not know by 
memory the whole continuity of our previous experience at once, 
but a particular part of it, which we, owing to our special interest 
in it for the time being, know as belonging to our experience. 
The fact that though thus selected, and therefore partially 
isolated, the object is still affirmed as part of our continuity often 
without our linking it to other adjacent objects in the series, 
shows how closely our continuity enters into the very life of our 
individuality. It might seem at first sight that, to remember any 
bit of the past, we should have to go through a succession of 
stages connecting the object remembered with what preceded 
and what followed. Sometimes we find we do this, but not 
always ; and in principle it is not necessary, any more than it is 
necessary, in order to perceive an object in the external world, 
that we should perceive this object as being alongside many 
others. The conscious reference to other objects may be very 
indirect indeed, and hardly present to the mind. And, in fact, it 
would be paradoxical if it were always necessary to relate an 
object to other objects before the object perceived could actually 
be perceived ; for then we should either have to do the same in 
the case of those other objects, and thus proceed ad infinitum, 
or else we should never perceive an object at all. We may be 
and often arc so vividly aware of a particular object as not to 
perceive any other objects. They may be felt or sensed as being 
there ; but that is not perception. So in the case of memory. 
The object remembered can be judged as having fallen within 
my experience without necessarily connecting it with a pre- 
decessor or successor. Indeed, this is requisite in many operations 
of memory, when the quick recall of a specific object is for the 
time our sole interest in our past. 1 And even when our interest 
in the past is not confined to a single selected object, but to a 
series of objects, as in the case of reverie where we dwell on the 

L I admit that the implication of other objects in the continuity is a matter of 
degree : but the degree may vary from vague indefiniteness upwards. 


past for its own sake, our memory of these objects consists in a 
succession of discrete judgments, acts of remembering par- 
ticular objects. Memory, in short, is not a blurred appre- 
hension of the past, but an articulate judgment regarding its 

Such contents may be any aspect of psychic experience which 
has definitely engaged our activity for a time and so modified 
our individuality as a whole. Thus it is that we remember not 
only acts of will in the strict sense, but phases of feeling and 
emotion, and forms of knowledge. We remember that we paid 
our debts or failed to 'pay them ; we can with the poetess 
" indulge in memory's rapturous pain ; " we can remember past 
apprehension or perception or judgments ; we can even remember 
that we remembered, or again that we did not remember. 
Individuals differ from one another in the way and in the degree 
to which they can remember these different contents ; some can 
remember past acts better than thoughts or feelings. But such 
variation is characteristic of all operations of consciousness, as we 
familiarly recognise in the " specialist's memory," or in describing 
one person as having a good verbal memory, another a memory 
for ideas, a third as having an auditory memory, a fourth a 
visual memory, and so on. 

While all these contents must belong to the past as con- 
tinuous with our present, it is not necessary that in all cases there 
should be a precise reference to a specific time. The past, of 
course, involves the element of time : but continuity with the 
present is the fundamental fact, not the continuity of a definite 
time series. This last is a highly abstract element with a 
uniform and invariable direction of its own. We partly build up 
the idea of this uninterrupted flow of time from our memory- 
judgments. The latter do not depend for their operation on the 
accurate reproduction of the abstractly uniform time series. All 
that we require for memory-judgments is that they should refer 
to the past as a continuity which runs into our present and is 
different from it. 1 Hence it is that we remember many things 

1 It is interesting to note in confirmation of this point that each individual tends 
to have a memory series peculiar to himself : much indeed as each tends to estimate 
time in a way of his own. 



which we cannot place anywhere specifically in the time Series, 
but which, we are sure, fell within our experience sornewhere. 
Hence, too, we remember some facts accurately but not in their 
exact order, the order which they must have taken in the single 
time series. The time order is something over and above the 
content we remember. The remembrance in a certain order no 
doubt may help to give cogency and certainty to our judgment 
of each object remembered. But so far from this being regarded 
as a necessity for accurate memory of particular objects, we 
rather consider it a sign of a defective, or at least primitive, mind 
if an individual cannot be sure of a particular occurrence without 
going over the whole record of events which preceded, or if, when 
interrupted in the recital, he has to begin all over again. When 
we remember a verse of poetry, or a passage in a book, or a 
place we have seen, we do not generally, and certainly need not 
for accuracy, locate the object remembered at some specific time 
in our past life. Indeed for many objects remembered this may 
be altogether impossible, as e.g. when we have met the object 
remembered very often, and it has thus become completely dis- 
sociated or detached from any specific time position. But we do 
locate the object in our past as an object which has entered into 
our experience, and which we affirm to have some place in the con- 
tinuity of our individual life. The time series of the past, then, 
is one thing, the content of the past is another. The latter is 
the primary and ultimate object of memory, and is not in the 
first instance directly bound up with the former, so far at least as 
the precision of the object of memory-judgment is concerned. 

There remains a last point of some importance. What dis- 
tinguishes past from present, and where does the past, to which 
memory refers, begin ? The operations of sense-perception form 
the primary region of the present, and with these are inseparably 
associated actual bodily movements of all kinds, whether of the 
body as a whole or of its various organs, and certain feelings 
characterised by novelty or freshness. The typical or standard 
judgment of the present, the judgment of external perception, 
combines these features. The sphere of free ideas or images is 
distinct from perception mainly through the absence in the 
former and the presence in the latter of organic movements. 


These free ideas and images may be of two kinds : those which 
are allied with incipient, unfamiliar, and arrested activity 
mainly bodily activity, and those which are allied with con- 
sciously realised, or fulfilled, activity which suggests no further 
movement of any kind. The former belong to what we call our 
future, the latter to what we call our past. Hence it is that all 
that belongs to our past invariably has the aspect of familiarity 
and of attainment, and is accepted without any attempt at 
alteration. Alteration pertains to the future, not the past. So 
much is this the case that memory seems to reflect as in a still 
mirror an unchangeable realm of images or ideas. Whenever 
we seek to change what is presented to us, or see what is 
presented change before us, we know we are no longer in the 
region of memory pure and simple. Distinct from both percep- 
tion and the free ideas associated with movement is, e.g.> the realm 
of concepts, with which are allied no bodily movements of any 
kind : and hence we rightly regard these as not belonging in a real 
sense to the present, past, or future of concrete experience, and 
as having no time qualification at all. Further than these dis- 
tinctions which common sense uses to mark off the past from the 
present and both from the future, we do not require to go in our 
analysis here. We can, however, easily see how, even apart 
from abnormalities of experience, the border line between what 
we reproduce and what we imaginatively construct may in some 
cases be very fine, and how it is often very difficult in practice to 
determine whether we are actually remembering or merely 
imagining a part of our experience. These are often mixed up 
even in the case of people with good memories. But however 
this may take place, the general principle holds good and is 
admitted : for we never seek to alter what memory supplies, and 
we can always try to alter when imagination constructs. As a 
rule the sense of familiarity, the consciousness that our activity has 
once been fulfilled in a certain direction, increases or decreases 
as attention is concentrated on the object before us ; and this is 
generally sufficient to make us aware whether we are remembering 
or imagining. 



We come now to the next stage of the analysis What sort 
of judgment is a memory-judgment ? Round this point there 
has been much controversy. We shall not discuss the different 
theories. All the different views which have been put forward in 
connection with our knowledge of objects of the external world, 
have played their part in the discussion of the object of memory, 
mainly because perception has been taken as the type of all know- 
ledge and memory interpreted on the same lines as perception. 

The difficulty in deciding the character of the judgment of 
memory seems to be largely due to the apparent absence, in the 
case of the object of memory, of many or most of those features of 
the environing world which supply much of the material of thought 
and the usual model of what we call an object. We are accustomed 
constantly to supplement our own apprehension of the world of 
objects about us by intercourse with our fellows, and this both 
acts as a check on our own particular apprehension and helps to 
give the object the quality of detachment from the individual 
In other words, social intercourse creates what we call universal 
or common experience ; and this carries with it the consequence 
that the object of such experience is independent of any given 
individual, and is thus in a sense universal likewise. Hence 
universality of experience and objectivity have been by some 
thinkers literally identified. But when we are dealing with 
memory-knowledge, our object is altogether dependent on, or at 
least directly bound up with, our individual mind. No one can 
remember for us, or in the long run deny the validity of another's 
memory. We may correct our own memory by the help of 
others ; but in the last resort the truth of our memory-judgments 
is final for ourselves. To surrender it absolutely is to give up 
the fact of the conscious continuity of our own individual life ; 
and this we never do nor can do without loss of conscious in- 
dividuality altogether. It would be like giving up our own 
emotions or private opinions or feelings, which constitute so large 
a part of our distinctive individual existence. The object of 
memory does not transcend individual experience, and yet it is 
none the less an object on that account For it transcends our 


conscious present, and that of itself is perhaps enough to con- 
stitute an object. But when to this is added the characteristic 
that the object of memory remains the same, and is found to be 
the same, after repeated changes in our individual experience 
and successive variations in our history, then it seems indeed 
absurd to deny to the object of memory the quality of objective 
reality, which all matters of fact possess. 

The neglect of this wider significance of the term object 
is a serious defect in certain well-known theories of knowledge. 
It is overlooked that the repetition by an individual of his 
own experience is even in principle not really different from 
the process of constituting an object by intercourse between 
several minds, on which the sole stress is laid by these theories. 
In certain forms of knowledge of the higher order, e.g. some 
of the higher developments of science, the objects dealt with 
are not arrived at or experienced through intercourse with 
other minds of equal ability, still less with other minds of 
average capacity, but are known only to the investigator himself. 
His assurance of the truth of his knowledge is obtained simply by 
repeating his own experiences, retracing his course of reasoning, 
and in other ways. There is therefore nothing unique in the 
character of the object of memory, when we say that its object 
never transcends individual experience, for the same is true of 
many other objects that fall within experience feelings, ideas, 
and even certain objects of science. 

Admitting this, we have to ask in what way the object in the 
memory-judgment is apprehended ? The judgment seems to 
consist in the ascription to oneself in the present of a part of the 
content falling within the continuity which connects past and 
present in the individual life. The judgment takes effect in the 
present ; it refers to the past ; and the identity or unity which 
holds these different elements (present and past state) together 
is the continuity of the individual. We may put it otherwise by 
saying that the reality underlying the judgment is the individual 
mind as a single unity. The memory-judgment makes this unity 
explicit in a special way, viz., by an act which unites a part of 
its continuity which belongs to the past with another part which 
is in the present. In this sense it is perhaps correct to describe 



the memory-judgment (as Mr. Bradley does) " as an enlargement 
by ideal content of reality beyond the present/' l But when 
this is given apparently as an alternative to the statement that 
" memory is an ideal construction of the past by which present 
realityis qualified/' there are both difficulties and even obscurities in 
such a proposition. These, however, we need not pause to consider. 

We may also say that the part of my continuity which is 
past is predicated or affirmed of the self which is in the present. 
My present, for purposes of this judgment, is not a particular 
feeling or idea or act, but simply the concrete state of the self 
for the time being, which is both feeling, idea and act, and is more 
especially centred in the perceptual world which, as we saw, 
peculiarly constitutes our present state. The two factors in the 
judgment, subject and predicate, are not external to one another 
here any more than they are in other forms of judgment. They 
are aspects or elements in the one ultimate reality involved, 
namely, our continuity as a single individual mind. In language, 
therefore, we might even say that our present belongs to our 
past quite as much as our past belongs to our present, since both 
fall within the same continuity of the individual life. 

In this act of judgment we do not derive the past state from 
the present by analysis ; for the past is an element of our reality 
just as much as the present, and, for the reasons already given, 
is essentially different from it in quality. If, in knowledge, we 
can properly distinguish what is given from what is known, we 
should be bound to say that the object of memory is given to us 
in the same general sense that any other object can be said to be 
given. The psychical processes which in time precede and always 
condition the protrusion before our present consciousness of an 
object which we identify with ourselves in the act of memory- 
judgment, lie outside of our immediate attention, are governed 
by special laws of their own, are beyond our choice or power to 
alter, and to them and their product we submit. These are all 
characteristics of what we describe as " given to knowledge," and 
not created by its purpose. We have the same situation in the 
case of an object which we know by way of the perceptive 
judgment : for here certain psychical or psycho-physical processes 

1 Essays on Truth and Reality, p. 354. 



pursue their course beyond the pale of our knowledge, and only 
after these are completed do we by an act of selective attention 
operate in the form of a judgment of perception. I presume it 
is because of these processes antecedent to our conscious act of 
judgment that we speak both in practice and in theory of objects, 
or again of elements, being " given " to us before knowledge can 
perform its work. With the psychical processes and conditions 
underlying the object of memory persistence, retentiveness, 
association and the like we are not concerned in the memory- 
judgment ; for this presupposes their operation, and supervenes 
as an act of knowledge after that operation is carried through. 
In memory-judgment we say simply, " I remember that fact," 
i.e. I predicate as true of me now a state or an event which has 
fallen within the continuity constituting my individual life. The 
fact, as a fact, cannot so we insist in practice be altered by me 
now, and is not altered by my judgment of it as belonging to my 
whole experience ; any more than we can alter an object of 
perception. We simply accept it once it is there before us, and 
build or rebuild it into the structure of our lives by affirming it 
to be part of ourselves. 

Hence the distinction between some free ideas or images as 
remembered and as new. We have to make our account with 
all as they enter the field of consciousness, and if we cannot 
regard any as having belonged to us before, we proceed to put 
them into a setting of another kind. 

What brings into existence a given fact remembered, depends 
in the first instance on what we are doing in the present, on the 
content of our present state of mind. Our interest in this may 
awaken and, because of the continuity of our past with our pre- 
sent, does awaken into life other parts of our individual life by 
means of the process which we call association. But this interest 
is not all powerful in the situation where memory-judgments are 
formed. In many cases it does no more than exercise a very 
slight control over the course memory takes. In other cases the 
object of memory shoots into prominence without any apparent 
control by our present interest at all. In other cases, again, our 
interest in the present may be so all-absorbing as to shut off the 
direct reference to the past altogether ; while in still other cases, 


e.g. those of reverie, we may surrender ourselves to the past so 
completely as to lose all interest in, or even any vivid sense of, 
what is present, and wake up later " with a start/' as we often say, 
to discover we are in the present and not living in the past after 
all. It is a mistake in fact and in principle, therefore, to ascribe to 
the interest in the present the whole of what we may know by 
memory-judgments. And the richer and the longer our past 
experience, the less does this interest in the present dominate 
memory-judgment. Our past is as real for us and as much 
our own as our present, and can be in itself quite as interesting, 
sometimes, indeed, even more interesting. 

The judgment of memory has, again, a peculiarity not found 
in many other forms of knowledge. While it is true to say that 
in every judgment whatsoever the self of the individual is 
implied, or, as it has been put, the " I think " underlies all know- 
ledge, this reference to the self is not put forward in every case 
of judgment. We do not say usually " I know " or " I think " 
" the grass is green " ; we say simply " The grass is green." The 
subject is looked upon as articulating its own content, as if 
we, as minds, need not be present at all. Hence in such a judg- 
ment, which is typical of an immense range of knowledge, we 
come to treat the self as something that can be left out of 
account. And for many purposes we can rightly leave it out of 
account, since a factor that is present in all cases makes no 
difference between the various cases. The constant is not so 
interesting as the variable, and it is the variable which concerns 
us in the progress of knowledge. 1 

But in the case of memory this reference to the self is never 
implicit, but always consciously explicit. The predicate is 
asserted solely of the self and by the self which owns the past 
state. Our judgment is not " that took place," but " I remember 
it taking place." When we refer to the past without this explicit 

1 This elimination of the self, which is thus a matter of mere practical convenience, 
has been absurdly construed by certain philosophers as if it implied that the self is 
not in fact operative in knowledge at all, that knowledge goes on of itself like a 
wound-up mechanism of thought, its owner, the artificer, merely looking on as it 
turns out its products an absurdity which amounts to maintaining that because 
a principle is present everywhere, it is for that very reason not present anywhere 
at all. 


reference to ourself, our statement is not a memory-judgment, 
but a judgment of history in the strict sense. For this reason 
memory-judgments presuppose, and indeed in a manner express, 
consciousness of self. They are perhaps amongst our earliest 
realisations of self-consciousness. Psychologists are accustomed 
to ascribe self-consciousness to social experience almost ex- 
clusively: and doubtless this has much to do with its full 
development. But there has always seemed to me a petitio 
principii in the argument which explains self-consciousness solely 
by social intercourse, since social intercourse is only possible if 
there is first a self in some form which can enter into social 
relations with others. Memory-judgments make possible such a 
consciousness of self as precedes full social recognition, and seems 
an earlier stage in the development of full self-consciousness. 

It is because of this character that memory-judgments seem 
peculiarly confined to the higher human level of mind. Mr. 
Bradley has remarked that " the animal mind has neither past 
nor future," and regards memory as the dividing line between 
the animal and the human mind. 1 His statement is dogmatic, 
but seems on the whole true if we recognise that the supreme 
distinction between human and other mentality is to be found in 
consciousness of self, that all the peculiar characteristics of 
human experience the pursuit of ideals and the construction 
of a social order responding to individual initiative are trace- 
able in the long run to this principle, and that memory is a 
specific way in which self-consciousness is realised arid expressed. 

We need not, of course, suppose that it is through memory- 
judgments that we create our self-identity except in the wide 
sense that repeated operations of memory make more and more 
clear to us what our identity consists in or contains. Our self- 
identity is the basis of memory-judgments ; these but make it 
explicit and express it in a specific way by the act of judgment. 
But it is always a self that is remembered, and by which, from 
another point of view, the memory-judgment is made, and for 
which alone it has significance. In this way memory has all the 
value for an individual mind which we ascribe to feeling or emotion, 
in which some have sought to find the essence of the consciousness 

1 Essays on Truth and Reality^ p. 356. 


of individual selfhood. We do not as a matter of fact depend 
solely on feeling for the consciousness of our distinctive individual 
existence. To have through memory a consciousness that certain 
states have been peculiarly our own, gives quite as vivid a sense 
of individual existence as any feeling. 


While it is true that memory-judgments cannot in the nature of 
the case arise till a highly complex process of mental development 
has taken place, it would be erroneous to suppose that the 
complexity of the process preceding their development implies a 
corresponding complexity in the acts of memory-judgment. The 
judgment is complex in the sense that it consists of distinct 
elements, one of which is the predicate which is attributed to the self 
of the present, and the other the subject, the self, which consciously 
assigns to itself the state or event in the continuity of its past. 
But the image or idea which constitutes the predicate does not 
intervene between the subject and a kind of static past which is 
outside it. This does not hold true even of the idea which we 
predicate of external reality beyond the individual subject. For 
if so, this reality would for ever remain unknown ; it would be a 
thing in itself outside all knowledge. Still less can such a view 
hold of the reality dealt with in memory-judgments, for here 
reality is just the mind of the individual in its aspect of continuity. 
The idea or image predicated in the memory-judgment is pre- 
cisely this aspect of continuity at a particular part of its entirety ; 
for the idea has or is mental content, and carries within it all that 
has entered into the activity of the self at the stage to which it 
refers. This idea does not arouse the feeling of pleasure or pain 
which was mine when the state first appeared, as if this pleasure 
or pain were something extra to its nature : it contains that 
feeling as part of its meaning. It does not, again, suggest the 
time at which the state appeared (when the element of time is 
involved in a memory-judgment), as if that time element were 
something added to the idea ; the time element, when involved, 
is itself part of the meaning or content of the idea. And so 


of the other elements involved in the predicate of a memory- 

The act which affirms " I remember this or that " is ultimate 
for knowledge. Its truth, if derived, could only be derived from 
a similar act involving exactly the same presuppositions. This, 
of course, does not necessarily imply the validity of every 
particular memory-judgment as it is made, 1 but merely that 
there is no way of knowing our individual past at all except 
by way of a memory-judgment, which, even if proved false, can 
only be proved so by another memory-judgment. There is 
nothing more remarkable in considering memory-judgments as 
ultimate in this sense, than in treating our judgments of the 
present as ultimate, e.g. those of perception. These are often 
erroneous, just as memory-judgments are at times in error. But 
in the long run we have no way of refuting the validity of a 
judgment of perception except by another judgment of percep- 
tion. We cannot deduce the truth of a judgment of immediate 
perception from any other form of knowledge whatsoever, any 
more than we can derive the act of perceiving from any non- 
perceptual source of mentality. This seems beyond all dispute ; 
it would be impossible to be aware of our present at all if this 
were untenable. But the past is qualitatively distinct from our 
present, though continuous with it as belonging to our one indi- 
vidual experience. If, then, we can take up the position that 
our knowledge of the present is direct and in the long run 
ultimate, there is nothing unique in affirming that our know- 
ledge of the past is equally direct and ultimate. The view which 
maintains that our knowledge of the past must always be 
indirect, seems due either to confusing our knowledge in 
the present with knowledge of the present, the latter being 
treated as primary ; or to regarding our knowledge of a par- 
ticular area of the past as derivable from our knowledge of 
the whole past, which is taken to be, and rightly taken to be, 
a construction of a very complex kind. 2 The former position 

1 Otherwise a memory-judgment would be, like a mere psychic event, incapable 
of being described as true or false. When there is judgment in any form there is 
always liability to error. 

2 It may also be due to confusing an actual experience as we were consciously 


need not be discussed after what has been said. The latter 
makes any construction of the whole past impossible ; for we 
can only construct out of simpler elements, and these must be 
obtained directly. There is no source from which they can be 
secured except that of particular memory-judgments regarding 
particular areas or parts of our past. 1 When it is said, there- 
fore, that an "immediate knowledge of the past is a miracle," 2 
or that i" we can only know the past mediately through the 
present," 3 we must reply that the only miracle lies in the long 
run in being able to remember at all, and that it would be a 
greater miracle to derive the past from a knowledge of the 
present than to know it directly. 

It is no doubt true that beneath the discrete knowledge of 
past events, which memory-judgments give, there lies a vague 
and diffused feeling of our continuity, 4 which may even be 
psychically prior to the development of memory-judgment, 
and which certainly remains a factor in our mental life even 
after memory-judgments have arisen. But this does not make 
memory-judgments less direct or final as judgments. The rela- 
tion, indeed, between this diffused feeling of continuity and the 
definiteness characteristic of the memory-judgment is closely 
analogous to that between the level of mere sensation and the 
act of perception. Perception is not different in degree of clear- 
ness or complication from sensation ; it is different in kind, and 
involves a new and unique operation of the mind, that, namely, 
of selective synthesis. And only by this act can perception be 

aware of it when it happened, e.g. a toothache, with our present consciousness of it 
as a past event. Clearly a toothache as it is, is not a past event : and as a past event 
it is not an actual toothache. If to know the past event means to have the actual 
toothache, there is no past at all, and therefore no knowledge of it as past is possible. 
The knowledge of it as past means inter aha that there is no actual toothache. The 
identification of these two objects makes the problem of memory-knowledge meaning- 
less. The doctrine that the present is immediately known and the past mediately, 
is in principle the same as the theory of representative perception. 

1 That memory-judgments are not final in the sense of systematically complete 
may be admitted. Only the truth is final in this sense. They are, however, final 
in the sense that they are an irreducible type of knowledge, which has its own 
peculiar conditions and makes its own peculiar contribution to the whole of 

2 Bradley. * Hamilton. 4 V. p. in, sup. 


regarded as a judgment conveying knowledge. Relatively to 
perception, mere sensation is barely knowledge ; it is psychic 
existence. Similarly, in the case of memory : only through the 
specific judgment "I remember this or that" does the past 
become definitely known in the sense in which all knowledge 
implies articulate selection. 

The various forms of memory-knowledge expressed by the 
terms recollection, reverie, reminiscence, remembering indicate 
that while our judgment of the past must in the long run be 
direct and final, memory-judgments can become interrelated. 
They can support and correct one another, form a body of 
knowledge about the past which may vary in range and con- 
nectedness in many ways and degrees of completeness ; while 
again they can approach the past from different directions. In 
recollection, our judgment of the past refers to a specific event 
in its time order ; and this implication of time sequence acts as a 
correctve and guide to the course taken by the judgments. In 
reverie, the mind is carried along in a sequence of memory- 
judgments in which one leads to another not in any logical 
order or even necessarily in their original temporal order, but 
merely as the mind might drift over the field of immediate 
perception at a given time and find each part interesting as it 
occurs. While the sequence in perception is determined by the 
juxtaposition of objects, it is determined in reverie by suggestion 
from point to point in the series of memories. In reminiscence, 
again, we have a connected temporal sequence of groups of 
events, each of which contains events temporally associated, but 
as groups there is no continuous temporal connection, and there 
is no rigorous control over the sequence of judgments by tem- 
poral continuity. In remembering there is not any necessary 
reference to time sequence at all. Facts and events are referred 
to the past, but the tempo of the events is not required or em- 
phasised. Typical cases of this form of memory are found in 
the remembrance of a verse of poetry or an isolated fact of 
knowledge. Our hold over such parts of our experience is only 
to be secured by memory-judgments. In the more complicated 
cases, as, for example, in remembering a long poem, the memory- 
judgments, in which each element is known, are built into one 


another largely by the help of association on the one hancl and 
a memory of the general structure of the whole piece remem- 
bered on the other. In this process undoubtedly judgment, of 
another kind than that of memory, and inference as well, have an 
important role to play. 


We come to the last point the value and certainty of 
memory-knowledge. That memory plays an important part in 
the composition and the progress of knowledge is evident. Even 
the simplest processes of scientific knowledge those of observa- 
tion involve the operation of memory. The mere transference 
to paper of what is seen through a microscope is only possible 
if we remember during the second stage what we have seen in 
the first. The highly complicated processes of constructing an 
elaborate theory are only carried through by a constant appeal 
to memory. But memory never gives organised knowledge, and 
never has the security of inference. The only kind of connection 
of which it admits is the external connection of mere collocation, 
or mere sequence, of independent judgments. We can never 
give a reason why certain separately remembered facts are put 
side by side. We can at best only assign a cause that the 
facts referred to in the memory-judgments must have been 
created by the activity of the individual, and thus form part of 
its continuity. Whenever we seek to show that the content of 
a judgment is such that it is essentially connected with another 
either by implication or extension of its identical substance, we 
have inference in the strict sense, and the beginning of a system 
of knowledge. Thus, if I say that I must have had a ticket for 
the railway journey because the ticket collector entered the 
carriage as usual and allowed me to proceed on my journey 
without remark, this is inference pure and simple, based on the 
inherent connection between the stages of the system consti- 
tuting a railway journey. But if I say I remember buying the 
ticket and remember giving it up, we have a mere arrangement 
of memory-judgments. None of these in particular guarantees 
its own necessary truth, for necessity implies inherent relation to 


a system. The more numerous the memory-judgments which 
relate to a single arrangement of events, the more likely each 
is to be accepted as true ; for this tends to give the series of 
judgments that close connection characteristic of a rational 
system. Hence it is that, when the memory-judgments are 
numerous, we almost involuntarily commingle or even confuse 
memory-sequence with inference, so much so that we will invent 
a link in the chain which memory cannot restore, and come to 
imagine as having happened what is not really remembered. 
Commonly the greater the breaks between the memory-judg- 
ments, or the fewer the memory-judgments, the less likely are 
we to fall into this confusion. And we are the more sure that 
we are remembering simply when we are aware that the several 
judgments stand isolated from one another. 

Thus the truth of a memory-judgment is always a particular 
truth, and has all the limitations in value which such truth 
possesses. It is unsupported, and unverified, sometimes even 
unverifiable ; if we care to say so, it is altogether contingent. 
And no increase in the number of adjacent parts of the con- 
tinuity of the past remembered will alter this character or turn 
it into a truth of a higher order the truth characteristic of a 
systematically connected whole. We increase the probability of 
its truth, we lessen the weakness of its contingency, by the 
number of adjacent parts of the continuity we can remember ; 
but that is all. This is inherent in the situation. Our memory- 
judgments are formed for and by individual minds as such, and 
have no source or support, qud memory, except from the indi- 
vidual mind. Hence it is that we are always ready, or at least 
the highly socialised mind is ready, to admit the frailty of 
memory-judgments ; and experience too painfully justifies the 
modesty of the confession. In many cases the best support for 
a particular memory -judgment is only to be found in the negative 
and weak assistance to be derived from not remembering any- 
thing that contradicts the judgment made. When such contra- 
diction does occur, as when we " think we remember " that we took 
the three o'clock train, and also think we remember being at our 
destination at two o'clock, we refuse to accept either deliverance 
and refuse to rely in this case on our memory at all. But this 


does not disturb our mental security, any more tfian when we 
make a mistake regarding the realm of perception and call a 
camellia a rose. 

The judgment of memory is none the less true because 
disconnected from other judgments. Its truth is in this respect 
similar to that of judgments of perception, each of which, as far 
as it is mere perception, stands by itself as a judgment of a 
particular matter of fact. From the point of view of perception, 
there is no reply possible to Hume's statement that we can find 
no inherent connection between two perceived facts or events ; 
" the impulse of one billiard ball is attended with motion in the 
second ; this is the whole that appears to the outward senses." 
But we do not question our judgment of each fact by itself. 
There is thus nothing peculiar in the truth of a memory- 
judgment which might raise doubts about admitting that 
disconnected judgments can convey a truth. Only in the interests 
of a theory, e.g. that the whole, or completely systematic truth, 
can alone be called truth at all, is it possible to raise objections 
to the view that a memory-judgment conveys a truth. But such 
a theory either ignores the plain deliverances of knowledge, or 
else it must be consistent with the admission that isolated 
judgments convey truth. If the latter, then memory will be 
admitted to have at least a certain degree of truth. This is all, 
in fact, that memory- judgments claim to have. But such truth 
as they individually possess cannot in the long run be set aside 
except in the interest of other memory-judgments. Their truth 
cannot be cancelled or revised by any mind or collection of 
minds except that of the individual who exercises the act of 
memory-judgment. For they only hold for him and are, qud 
memory, of no final value to any one else, though for him they 
are supremely important. It is useless, therefore, to try to 
degrade the truth of memory-judgment by pointing out that it is 
so much lower than inference, and that in fact it requires to 
be revised in order to enter the realm of truth at all. Memory- 
judgments do not claim to rival the coherence of inferential 
truth, and it is a mere irrelevance to criticise memory-judgments 
from that point of view. The mind is not convinced that its 
memory-judgments are not true because it cannot give a reason 


for their inherent relation to other judgments, like in kind or 
different in kind : any more than the mind is convinced that it 
does not see a stone because it cannot give a reason for seeing 
the stone to be where it is. It is equally useless to say that 
memory-judgments cannot as such convey truth of their own 
because they are often in error, and therefore must have a 
criterion for their truth beyond their own deliverance. It is true 
that memory-judgments are often in error, but the correction of 
the error qtid memory, can only be made by another appeal to 
memory : and this is generally what is done and is found 
satisfactory. Indeed, how otherwise could we admit that 
memory had been mistaken except by convincing the mind by 
an appeal, a further appeal, to memory ? If this is meaningless, 
how are we to account for the fact that perception is often 
mistaken, and yet we correct an erroneous perception by another 
perception, thus admitting that perception as such is the final 
criterion in its own sphere ? By no amount of conceptual 
deduction or inference can we create, or destroy, or even verify a 
truth derived from perceptual judgment. Perception is a level of 
knowledge for which no other process of knowledge can be, or 
provide, a substitute. The formulae for gravitation will never 
give us the sense of weight ; the laws of light will never supply 
us with the perception of colour. Each type or level of know- 
ledge is a unique function of the mind operating under its own 
conditions and carrying within its own order its own warranty for 
its truth. And this holds for memory as for every other type of 
knowledge. The intermittent fallibility of memory, therefore, is 
no proof of the general incapacity of memory to supply truth, 
and is not to be overcome by appealing to truth of another order 
of knowledge. 

The truth of a memory-judgment is thus in the first instance 
an isolated truth, capable no doubt of entering into a larger body 
of truth, but certain and valid as it stands. Because of its 
isolated character it provides in general the material for com- 
pleter knowledge of reality ; for this larger knowledge comes by 
way of inference, and thus passes out of the range of memory 
and equally out of the domain of merely individual experience. 
But it is only in certain cases that this advance in the knowledge 



of the past can be made. It appears, for instance, when the facts 
to which our memory refers have a wider significance than our 
own individual experience requires or possesses ; for the facts 
referred to are often facts which have entered into other people's 
experience as well, and thus our knowledge of these facts may 
become common knowledge. Our judgments, therefore, may be 
a contribution to a common stock, and are on that account liable 
to, and capable of, correction by others. This process of criticism 
and correction prepares the way for the wider knowledge of them 
which appears as universal judgment or inference. But many 
facts of the past can never be so supplemented and corrected by 
the knowledge which others possess. They remain peculiarly 
and always within a single individual's cognisance. Here the 
truth of a memory-judgment must be accepted as final till it is 

The individual may, indeed, not merely feel convinced of its 
truth but support his conviction by additional memory-judgments. 
But he can never by memory have the security of inference or 
systematic truth, for this at once carries him beyond memory to 
the region of universal experience. 


This investigation leads to certain important conclusions. If 
the field of memory-judgments is that described, no theory of 
knowledge can be adequate which takes its start primarily or 
solely from our knowledge of the external world. It is equally 
inadmissible to regard, as Mr. Bradley and others do, the know- 
ledge of the present as providing the final criterion for the truth 
which knowledge supplies. This view, which seems to lead 
directly to scepticism, rests partly on a confusion between 
knowledge in the present, where certainly all knowledge takes 
place, and knowledge of the present, which as certainly all 
knowledge is not ; and partly it rests on the prejudice, which at 
least requires justification and has received none, that the present 
has greater importance for knowledge because it seems more 
important for life and practice. 

Again, if we thus broaden the basis of knowledge to include 



the past as well as the present, it is impossible to accept a theory 
of thought, or knowledge in general, which asserts, almost as a 
self-evident axiom, that knowledge is an ideal extension through 
judgment and inference of an immediate which is focussed in the 
present, or more narrowly still, in present sensation. 1 Apart from 
other objections to this logical theory, it ignores altogether the 
peculiar character of our knowledge of ourselves which we have 
through direct acquaintance with our past. 

The admission of the independent validity of memory- 
judgments will react on our theory of knowledge in another 
direction. It will tend to emphasise the essentially anthro- 
pocentric character of all our knowledge. For memory-knowledge 
as such finds its primary value in the individual life which it 
subserves. There is no " external world " to which such know- 
ledge refers. If this be true of parts of knowledge, may not all 
knowledge find its significance simply within the purposive pro- 
cesses of the human mind, which at the best is but one kind of 
individual reality in the totality of the real world with which it 
stands in relation ? Instead, therefore, of saying, in the language 
of a familiar school of logicians, that the world is sustained by a 
continuous effort of the intellect, may it not rather be that our 
intellect is sustained in its activity by the world of real beings 
which the individual mind encounters, and, in its active relation 
therewith, carries through the processes of the intellect as one 
special way of realising its own supreme purpose of self- 
maintenance when face to face with other beings ? 

It also follows that objectivity cannot be interpreted solely in 
terms of universal, i.e. common, experience. There is an object 
which is only found in individual experience, and is not the less 
real though confined to the region of individual experience. We 
may, indeed, say that even here its essential character is 
universality, since the repetition by the individual of an ex- 
perience the same in kind is equivalent to universality within the 
sphere of his experience. But this is certainly not universality 
in the sense accepted by current theories of logic. The latter is 

1 Bosanquet, Logic^ \. p. 90. "Judgment is primarily the intellectual act which 
extends a given perception by attaching the content of an idea to the fact presented 
in the perception " 


always socially constituted. A truth is held to be true, an object 
is regarded as an object, because it holds for a plurality of minds 
concurrently and not for an individual mind exclusively. 

But if objectivity is accepted in this wider sense, then the 
current view that the final guarantee of truth is systematic 
connection must also be modified or abandoned. Such a test 
is inseparably bound up with the doctrine of the inter-relation of 
finite minds in a social system, ultimately perhaps the system 
of human minds as a whole, or humanity as an organised whole 
of mentality. If we extend the meaning of objectivity in the 
way described, we must give a distinctive and independent place 
in the economy of knowledge to uniqueness of individual 
judgment as a mode in which truth is apprehended. Generalised, 
this implies the acceptance of intuition, in some sense, as an 
avenue to truth equally with, and yet independent of, reflective 
systematic connectedness or inference. 

Finally, if we assign an independent place to intuition in the 
sphere of human experience, we cannot literally dissolve the 
individuality of the mind into a larger comprehensive universal 
mind, and regard the latter as "taking up" or even fulfilling the 
whole purpose and nature of the former. The individual with 
his intuitions, as likewise with his emotions and even opinions, is 
an irreducible centre of mentality, with a reality and claims 
uniquely his own, whatever contribution he may make to the 
stock of common mental life which he shares with others. 
Whether the individual mind is to be assigned a larger or a 
subordinate or an equal reality with the universal mind is a 
problem which only a metaphysical inquiry can attempt to 




"Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas." PASCAL. 

" Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum 

Of things for ever speaking, 
That nothing of itself will come, 
But we must still be seeking ? " 


MOST philosophers would lead us to suppose that man's only 
channel of approach to reality is through reflective knowledge. 
This carries with it the assumption that reality must in the long 
run mean the same for every one ; for truth, it is held, is one, 
and truth is the goal of knowledge, which seeks to interpret 
reality. Plain experience does not seem to support such 
positions. There is no single reality for all human beings. 
Reality has a different meaning for different individuals ; and 
both the sense of reality and the capacity for reality vary 
enormously between human beings even of the same society and 
race. The range of reality for most people is extraordinarily 
limited. Their consciousness of reality differs immensely in 
degree and even in kind. The child's sense of reality is certainly 
not the same and never can be the same as that of the adult, and 
hardly seems to have much affinity with that of our reflective 
philosophers. Indeed, it cannot be said that philosophers have 
established amongst themselves a common consciousness of 
reality. Nor can it be maintained that in fact there is only one 
way of becoming conscious of reality. We can certainly get in 
touch with reality by way of reflective processes, by the pathway 




of ideas. But equally will we find reality through action, or 
again by perception. We can approach reality by processes 
primarily mental, and by processes primarily organic. Through 
perception we are mortised to the real about us in a way which 
makes us almost one with the external world. Through the 
physical constitution of our bodies we are in very literalness 
continuous with physical nature. Are these not ways in which 
reality comes home to us with all its insistence ? Some individuals 
select one channel of approach to the real, others another. The 
primitive man, the schoolboy, the scientist, the poet and the man 
of affairs have each their own way of finding reality. The 
philosopher is entitled to take his own way : he is not entitled to 
maintain it is the only way, or even that his is the best way for 
every one. 

Nor, again, is the human individual so poor that he must rely 
on the one way of reflection to attain the full consciousness of 
reality. All his activities carry him beyond himself, and it 
requires all his resources to do justice to his own reality and the 
reality of the world in which he lives and moves and has his 
being. One of his resources lies in that state of his individuality 
in which is concentrated in inseparable union his mental and 
organic (or physical) energies, which is at once body and mind. 
That state is emotion. In view of the range and the importance 
of emotion in human life, we are justified in asking what contri- 
bution emotion makes to our consciousness of reality. 


There are those who regard emotion as a frame of mind 
which should be distrusted, or controlled, or even suppressed 
altogether. Emotion, it is held, gives a misleading direction to 
the individual's life, turning him away from the " truth about " 
the real or the " true nature " of the real. These views rest on a 
prejudice on the one hand, and on an incorrect conception of the 
operation of emotion on the other. The prejudice is that of 
intellectualism. It is maintained that man's nature is at its best, 
is fully human, when he brings into play his reasoning powers. 
Emotion being non-rational is held to be irrational, or to lead to 


paths which are irrational. The explicitly intelligent or intelli- 
gible is considered the highest, and emotion but a hindrance to 
the attainment of the intelligible. Even when emotion is 
admitted to a place in the economy of human nature, it is looked 
on as a lower level of human nature, only permissible in default 
of the guidance of thought, to be transcended or transmuted if 
and when the level of thought is attained. This intellectualistic 
prejudice is fostered and encouraged by the whole trend of 
academic culture, and is probably traceable in the long run to the 
influence of Greek ideals of human life on Western scholastic 
institutions. Schools and universities are exclusively concerned 
with the development of intellectual interest in and control over 
the real world. For them knowledge and only knowledge is 
power, meaning by knowledge the intellectual articulation of 
the real. 

Such a prejudice runs directly counter to the history and the 
essential conditions of man's life. It ignores the patent fact that 
both the pursuit of knowledge and the accomplishment of the 
end of knowledge are themselves inseparable from states of 
emotion. 1 Apart from this, there are domains of experience 
where not merely does emotion exclusively dominate the 
situation, but where intellectual activity as such is not accepted 
as a guide at all and where its intrusion is admitted to be 
irrelevant and unreliable. The joy in beauty, the horror of 
tumultuous ruin, are not the outcome and do not require the 
assistance or intervention of a calculated intellectual analysis. 
The man who would resolve into a process of reasoning the 
insistent calls of his being to charity and affection would hardly 
be considered the best type of friend or a model representative 
of the domestic virtues. The power of reverence in the soul 
overmasters the claims of reason to a voice in the experience. 
In these spheres of experience Hume's remark holds true that 
" reason is the slave of the passions." The most that processes 
of reasoning can accomplish in such cases is to contrive the 
means to the better fulfilment of the emotional life. The intellect 
can neither supplant these kinds of emotion, nor reproduce by 
ways of its own the peculiar quality of experience realised in the 

1 V. Chap. III. 



emotion. We may completely understand the physical nature of 
sounds constituting a sonata or even the theory of its composition 
as a piece of music, without thereby experiencing or being able 
to experience the peculiar emotional satisfaction which its 
harmonies can create. Except in rare cases it is certain that 
the artist's joy in creation is in no essential respect connected 
with the intellectual comprehension of the nature and conditions 
of what he produces. In short, just as in the case of perception 
we have an attitude generically distinct from that of the intellect, 
so in the case of emotion. Emotion like perception gives us a 
qualitatively unique form of experience, neither derivable from, 
nor replaceable by, nor subordinate to any other. 

But apart from this intellectualistic prejudice, those who would 
regard emotion as a state to be repressed or suppressed, mistake 
the nature of emotion. There can be no doubt that in some 
cases emotion misleads the individual, and in other cases emotion 
has to be controlled. But it seems an elementary fallacy to 
suppose that because emotion sometimes misleads it is essentially 
unreliable ; or, because it has at times to be controlled, that 
therefore it is essentially inferior or subordinate to the end or the 
process by reference to which it is controlled. It is transparent 
that both perception and the intellect often mislead, and the 
aberrations of reason are as frequent as its successes. But we do 
not on that account consider that perception is fundamentally 
untrustworthy, or that intellectual activity is the pathway of error, 
or that reason should be abandoned. 1 Emotion like intellect or 
perception has its own peculiar conditions or laws of efficiency. 
There are emotions which are reliable, there are others which are 
unreliable ; some which take us to the heart of reality, others 
which are the source of illusion. Only the discipline of actual 
experience can guide us to find and to follow those emotions 
which are to be trusted with complete confidence, and to reject 
those which are unreliable. But this discipline of experience is 
equally necessary in the case of intellect and of perception. 

How, then, does emotion contribute to our consciousness of 
the real ? Emotion seems to be the most direct, as it is in some 

1 It is surely begging the question to say that perception is only perception when 
it does not err, or that reasoning which is fallacious is not reasoning at all. 


respects the most complete, w&y in which the individual discovers 
his organic unity with the world. Whether it be fear or joy, hate 
or love, the individual becomes vividly alive to his inseparable 
connection with a reality which furthers and sustains, or hinders, 
his whole being. The emotional response is not deliberately 
created. It comes upon him without premeditation ; it is inevitable 
or, what is the same thing from another point of view, is entirely 
spontaneous. Its basis lies partly in his inheritance, partly in 
his constitutional endowment, and from these there is no escape. 
The past from which he has come has already built him into 
the substance of the real world. The maintenance of his in- 
dividuality in the face of other individuals is but an effort to 
conserve what of reality is peculiarly his own. His emotions are 
the response of the real in himself to the real independent 
of himself and yet continuous with his own being. In his 
emotional life he raises no questions concerning whether his 
nature is higher or lower, of the same kind or of another 
kind, than that of other beings. He finds other beings 
in the same world as himself and he thrills at their presence, 
responding to each in a distinctive way ; and that is all. In 
emotion the individual lives in a condition of certainty both of 
himself and of the real, a certainty which is at once rooted in the 
very consciousness of individuality, and helps to establish more 
definitely the sense of individual existence over against other 
beings. Doubts and questions have relevance only in the realm 
of knowledge, and can only be allayed by a process of knowledge. 
Through emotion, then, the individual discovers that his whole 
being is sustained or imperilled. He discovers this through his 
fundamental continuity with the real world in which he lives and 
has a place. Emotion is not the effect of other beings, but the 
response he makes to their presence. It is not the consequence 
of any prior interpretation of their nature : it springs spontaneously 
into consciousness through the uncontrolled operation of a complex 
of congenital or acquired dispositions inherent in his constitution. 
He only becomes aware of the response after it has occurred : he 
can neither direct its origin nor determine its quality. It is in 
every sense a literal discovery of himself in his inseparable unity 
with the real. 


At the same time it is not a mere attribute of his individuality 
which does not concern and is not concerned with the nature of 
other beings. If so, it would be indistinguishable from an 
illusion. It would be a mere occurrence within his own life history 
and of no permanent interest even to himself. It is, on the 
contrary, a state of his experience, and therefore one in which the 
nature of the real is involved. By the emotion he discovers that 
other beings give rise in himself to vital responses intimately 
affecting his whole nature, and modifying the level of his life. 
They are found to have what we may describe as varying degrees 
of kinship with his own being, of union with his reality, of 
identity of action with his activity, in short, of continuity of 
being with his being. 1 This consciousness of the nature of other 
beings which is given in and inseparable from an emotion, must 
not be confused with any kind of intellectual insight into, or 
interpretation of, or a judgment upon the real beings which are 
involved in the experience of an emotion. In the sense that 
knowledge is an understanding of the real world, the emotion 
implies no understanding whatsoever. So much is this the case 
that understanding in some instances comes after emotion, and 
in other cases may alter or destroy the emotion altogether. 2 

The only significance which things have or acquire through 
emotion is their particular kinship with the individual's life, with 
which they are indissolubly interdependent as parts of the same 
real world. That kinship is given in and with the emotion. The 
emotion thus intensifies and heightens the sense of interdepen- 
dence with other beings, which is the fundamental structure of 
the real world. Hence the fateful character of all emotions. 
They reveal how completely and inevitably the individual is bound 
up with other beings. Human emotion more than almost any 
other experience is the sphere of the dramatic necessity which 

1 I prefer not to use the term "value," for this implies that one thing is a means to 
another which is its end. The relation of things to one another as found in emotion 
is not exhaustively or accurately expressed by that of means and ends, otherwise all 
emotion would be purely self-centred, which it is not. Further, value is an afterthought, 
while emotion is a direct experience. 

2 Perception is doubtless involved in many emotions, though not in all. But in any 
case it does not create the emotion ; it is at best an occasion or basis for it in certain 
instances, not the source of it. 


is inseparable from human life. Where there is emotion, there 
this conscious kinship stands revealed : and because this intimate 
relationship with the real is fundamental to his nature, emotional 
experience is inevitable. Thus we discover in this experience 
not merely a state of the individual's life but a characteristic of 
the real world. And there seems no other way than that of 
emotion through which this quality becomes manifested. If it 
be said that such a characteristic is very vague and indefinite, it 
must be noted, first, that clearness of definition can only be 
secured through the function of knowledge, and, emotion not 
being a form of knowledge, the tests of knowledge are irrelevant 
to emotion. (2) The peculiar power of emotion on the individual 
lies in its immediate certainty, not in its detailed articulation of 
the object to which he responds. (3) Emotions are in general 
precise and definite as each occurs, and they correspond in 
general to actual and definite objects. This in fact is the only 
definiteness that is required. The individual never mistakes his 
own emotions. To mistake an emotion is only possible bypassing 
a judgment upon it ; and passing a judgment is a form of know- 
ledge, not an emotion. Even in the case of " mixed emotions " 
we have no confusion of emotions ; what we have is rapidly 
alternating emotions. (4) From the point of view of know- 
ledge an object may be extremely vague in outline, or extremely 
general in character, e.g. God, and yet awaken a deep emotion 
of an enduring and definite kind. To say that the experience 
embodied in an emotion must be vague because not reducible 
to the precision required for knowledge, is merely another illus- 
tration of the prejudice of intellectualism. 


From what has been said it will be evident that human 
emotion is essentially anthropomorphic in character. But this 
cannot be regarded as a defect. It is merely a qualification. 
Knowledge is likewise anthropomorphic in a very important 
sense, as is urged elsewhere. 1 Doubtless emotion is not peculiar 

1 See Chap. I. 


to man ; and every animal capable of emotion will respond 
emotionally for the same reason, though in a manner different 
from that found in the case of man. Even all races of mankind 
do not display emotion in the same manner. 1 But the emotional 
life of each individual is none the less valid and significant for 
him, though it differs in intensity and sometimes in form from 
that of another. The response is in all cases similarly constituted. 
And if the emotion depends for its constitution on the peculiar 
physiological and mental structure of the human individual, the 
emotion is none the less real and none the less important on that 
account. If it cannot be otherwise than relative to his peculiar 
type of individuality, it becomes in itself as necessary as any 
other manifestation of his activity. If he cannot display emotion 
otherwise than under these conditions, it cannot be a defect of 
emotion that it is determined by these conditions. Moreover, 
emotions do arise similarly in similar situations in the same 
individual and in different individuals. In this sense there is a 
certain universality and a necessity in the life of emotion as 
much as in the case of knowledge, whether it be perceptual or 
intellectual. As a fact men do have like emotions in like cir- 
cumstances. They rejoice over the same things ; they grieve 
in the same situation ; they are angry and are glad together ; 
they even share the same fears. Further, men are expected to 
be emotionally affected in the same way in given cases, and this 
calculation is justified by events. Works of art and literature 
are constructed on this assumption. Many conventions and 
institutions of social life are maintained, and successfully 
maintained, by presupposing this similarity of emotional response 
in given situations. So much is this true that in certain cases it 
is held that men ought to feel certain emotions towards certain 
objects, and surprise, or even condemnation, is expressed if they 
do not feel such emotions. The man whose anger is not stirred 
when the honour of his country is attacked, and whose pity is 
not aroused at the sight of human suffering, is judged as an alien 
to his country or his kind. All this proves that emotional life is 

1 It is mentioned by Sir J. G. Frazer, Folk Lore in the Old Testament, that a 
certain tribe displays its emotion on welcoming friends by tears and not by smiles, as 
is more common amongst other orders of mankind. 


generic and not particular, is characterised by a kind of univer- 
sality and is not a peculiarity incidental to an individual. 
Anthropomorphic though it must be, because bound up with the 
structure and constitution of human individuality, emotion is not 
more so than any other form in which human life, whether 
knowledge or action, is expressed. 

For this reason it is impossible to maintain that the emotional 
response to the real affords no clue to the nature of reality, and 
that knowledge alone is in a position to convey to man what 
reality is. Articulate rationality certainly supplies an avenue of 
approach to the real, but it is not the only channel through 
which man communes with the reality. Aristotle, it will be 
remembered, maintained, with that singular belief in the potency 
of thought which was characteristic of Greek thinking, that 
human emotion should be excluded from all consideration of tfieT 
Divine nature, and that only through the function of man's 
thought does man approach or apprehend the Divine being. It 
seems evident that even this selective prepossession in favour of 
thought is itself but an expression of the very anthropomorphism 
he is apparently at pains to eliminate from the Divine. To pick 
out thought from the whole composition of man's individuality, 
and ascribe that alone to the Divme, is in its very essence 
an anthropomorphic procedure adopted in the interests of a 
philosopher's predilection for the life and work of reason. Even 
so, he cannot entirely eliminate the life of emotion from the 
Divine, for it is held that God " enjoys " the contemplation of his 
own thought. The truth seems to be that emotion is one form 
in which, in a unique manner, the nature of the real is revealed 
in man's life. And when we bear in mind that only through all 
the powers of man's individuality is it possible to discover what 
the whole of reality is for man, we can readily see that to 
dispense with any of his fundamental functions in the effort to 
establish complete communication with reality, is to decrease his 
chances of finding reality, is to limit his interest in reality and 
cut him off from his full heritage in the real world. Even with 
all his powers working in perfect condition it is difficult enough 
for any individual to cope with the immeasurable riches of the 
world. It is certainly not justifiable that, for the sake of abstract 


simplicity or because of selective interest, he should artificially re- 
strict his powers of communion to one special function of the mind. 
No doubt an individual must, because of the limitations of 
his powers of attention, concentrate effort now in one direction 
and now in another, and may find it easier to work along one 
line of approach than another. But these are incidents and 
conditions of individuality ; they are not reasons for either ex- 
cluding entirely from consideration any form of approach to the 
real, or for taking one form as more reliable than another. It 
seems nearer the truth to maintain that we lay hold on reality 
by employing all our powers and functions, and each supplies us 
with a specifically distinct consciousness of the real world which 
cannot be attained by any other functions. This seems the 
reason that defeat or disappointment with the efforts of one 
function to satisfy our complete consciousness of the real not 
only does not leave us in absolute despair in our search for 
reality, but compels us to seek a further consciousness of the real 
in another direction. When we are persuaded the intellect 
cannot meet all our wants we appeal to our will or to our 
emotions. We do not require to call upon our intellect to 
supply or to justify the satisfaction which emotional experience 
can provide. We are compelled in certain cases to admit that 
our intellect has its limitations and is not adequate to the task of 
grasping all reality. In short, each attitude of the individual 
towards reality gives a different contribution to our total sense of 
the real. Hence our individuality by using all its resources 
never feels utterly lost in the complexity of the world, but feels 
its life rooted immovably in reality. For the reality which 
sustains our specific type of individuality must sustain it as a 
whole, and in its entirety ; and only by the exercise of all its 
activity can it be at once fully real and thus adequately maintain 
its place as one real in a complex of reality. 


It seems possible, in the light of what has been said, to 
account for the great importance which seems almost universally 
attached to emotional experience as a clue to the nature of 


reality. In all emotion the individual is aware at once of his 
distinction from, and of his inseparable union with, real objects. 
Emotion does not give a mere consciousness of their existence. 
Knowledge can give as much as that. 1 Emotion conveys the 
extent to which other beings promote or retard our own in- 
dividuality ; in other words, the extent of their kinship with our 
type of individuality. And this we can discover by experiment 
and experience, by trial and error, in which emotion follows its 
own laws and applies its own tests independently of other forms 
of experience. The diversity of emotions is the outcome of this 
experience. The range of emotional experience varies from 
individual to individual, from race to race, and also varies as 
between one stage of civilisation and another. Emotions differ in 
degree, e.g. joy seems but a higher degree of which contentment 
is a lower level ; they differ in kind, e.g. surprise and reverence ; 
they differ in intensity, e.g. anger and fury, the more intense 
being so-called passions. Some lead to action, e.g. fear ; others 
are, by contrast, passive, e.g. admiration. Some refer to the past, 
e.g. regret ; others to the future, e.g. hope ; others are con- 
centrated on the present, e.g. love. With such a complexity of 

1 It is important to remark in passing that the existence of the objects, to which 
an emotion is a response, is always implied in the emotional attitude, but is an 
entirely subordinate element. In an emotion we never doubt or raise any question 
regarding the existence of an object ; existence is implicated from the first. In an 
emotion we are simply assured of the existence of what stirs the emotion. Hence the 
problem, if it be a problem, of the existence of the objects independent of us, is one 
that has no meaning whatever in the life of emotion. The problem is raised, or has 
been raised, in the interests of knowledge, because there we are interested in the 
" relation of thought to reality," or in the relation of " perception to external things." 
The very problem shows how one-sided and abstract a function knowledge by itself 
is, and proves, indirectly, how impossible it is to regard conscious life as purely 
cognitive. Fear and love, anger and hate, are moods in which the existence of an 
object is all too acutely experienced to make a question regarding existence relevant 
or possible. Yet, indirectly, they proclaim in the most vivid manner the existence of 
their objects ; and through emotion the existence of real objects is revealed with un- 
mistakable certainty in a form which defies all knowledge to prove or disprove. A 
man does not require to prove the existence of his friend before showing him affection ; 
and any question of his existence is so irrelevant as to be quite meaningless. In his 
affection the reality of his friend is given, with as much substantiality as his own ; and 
in that reality so subordinate an clement as existence is implied. 

The significance of emotion in relation to this problem of existence has been 
invariably ignored by those who have considered the question. 


emotions, and such an endless variety of objects to awaken 
emotion, it is inevitable that the emotional experience of most 
individuals is anything but balanced or consistent. The 
discipline of experience in the sphere of emotion consists in 
learning how to secure permanence and uniformity of emotions 
towards the same object under similar circumstances. An un- 
disciplined emotional life is primarily one in which the individual 
does not have the same emotional responses towards the same 
objects, but, instead, has incongruous emotions, in which the 
individual cannot rely on his emotional experience from time to 

It is beyond the scope of this essay to consider in detail the 
various emotions, or to determine, if that be possible, which are 
fundamental and which derivative, or to trace the evolution of 
emotional life. Our interest in emotion is confined to one point, 
the kind of contribution emotion makes to our consciousness of 
reality, the clue it gives to the nature of the real world in which 
man has his place. 


In the attitude of emotion the inmost life of individuality is 
concentrated into a single psycho-physical state which permeates 
its entire substance. Through emotion the individual discovers 
his interdependence with other beings equally real and equally 
individual. He discovers his own independence, for every 
emotion which he experiences throws into ever greater relief the 
inalienable distinctiveness of his own life, and emphasises still 
further its central unity. The independent reality of his own 
being is given in the emotion ; and, while emotion lasts, it is 
never surrendered but is ever deepened and intensified. He 
communicates with other real beings by his emotion ; but his 
emotion remains his own, is himself; it is not transferable, is 
incommunicable. The more he can respond to other beings 
emotionally, the more he realises his distinction from them as a 
real among other reals. They do not display his emotion, even if 
in certain cases they display emotions like his own. They cannot 
occupy his centre of existence ; for the maintenance of that centre 


with its special psycho-physical contour and its specific position in 
the world of real beings, is partly what calls emotion into exercise. 1 
Even where other beings are so far of the same order as himself 
that he can convey his emotions to them in speech, it is always 
found that he does not hand over to another the emotions he 
possesses, as he might share a thought or a course of action : he 
communicates certain aspects of his state through language for 
the purpose of awakening in the other individual emotions like his 
own. Emotions do not permit of being experienced in any other 
way than as states. They have their own form of expression in 
physical terms ; they need no other, and no other is adequate to 
them. 2 Emotion thus establishes and confirms the consciousness 
of the individual's distinctive independence as a real among reals. 
It does not do so by demonstration, for emotion involves no train 
of reasoning. It does so simply by being a manifestation of the 
living energy of the individual, indistinguishable from, and 
possessed of, the direct conscious assurance of being a living 

In the emotional attitude there is also involved the conscious- 
ness of other equally real individuals consistent with, yet separable 
from, his own individuality. It is in relation to other beings that 
the individual realises himself in the form of emotion. An 
emotion carries the individual beyond the circle of his individu- 
ality. It is a state of his life, and life is adjustment to an 
environment as real as the living agent. In certain cases, doubt- 
less, it is found that an individual's emotion is directed upon the 
individual agent himself. This is possible because one condition 
of an individuality may, as the result of self-consciousness, be 
distinguished from another. But it is to be noted that such 

1 This characteristic sharply distinguishes the life of ideas from that of emotion. 
Ideas, especially true or " valid " ideas, may, as we say, belong to every one alike; 
they are not the property of any one, and may proceed from any individual and have 
the same sense in a variety of individual minds. Emotions, on the other hand, are 
inseparable from the individual centre which experiences them, because in them the 
individual emphasises and maintains his own individual life. 

2 Hence it is that language (the physical expression of thought) is always found 
to be so utterly indequate to convey an emotion as to make the attempt futile. It is a 
Karafido-if els a\\oyevos. Any one who reads the explanatory letterpress of a piece 
of music finds it as irielevant to the music as would be the reduction of the 
composition to a mathematical formula. 



cases are not representative of emotional life. They are either 
transitory, or are deliberately repressed in a healthy nature ; if 
such emotions continue, they are considered symptomatic of 
disturbed equilibrium or even of an unhealthy individuality. 1 
Paradoxical as it may seem, the individual life is not maintained 
if it lives to itself; it lives by action and re-action with other 
beings. Life is always protrusive when it is healthy, and literally 
grows by what it feeds on in every sense of the word. And 
emotion is one state of the life of individuality. The equal 
reality of other beings is therefore implied in the exercise of 
emotion, and is inseparable from its operation. This is never 
omitted in the emotional consciousness, and no amount of 
questioning or doubt raised by the intellect would ever disturb 
its assurance of the independent reality of other beings, for the 
simple reason that life is essentially assertive and expressive. 
It is not that an individual infers from an emotion that there are 
other real beings, or concludes by a process of reasoning that 
other beings are the cause of his emotion. Reasons and 
causes are beyond the scope of emotion : they belong to the 
sphere of the intellect and are irrelevant to emotional life. Real 
beings are simply given in the experience of the emotion. 

In some respects more of reality is, as a fact, given to us by 
emotional experience than by any other channel, probably for 
the reason that in emotion so much more of individuality is 
engaged, namely, both the physical and the psychic, than is 
brought into play through other attitudes which the individual 

1 In this connection it is worth while calling attention to the remarkable and 
significant fact that emotional self-alienation is more dangerous to the stability of the 
individual life than intellectual confusion, and that radical incongruity of emotions is 
symptomatic of more serious alteration of individuality than intellectual inconsistency. 
When a man's emotions are turned against himself or turned upon himself, he is 
distraught, for he is making of himself a reality independent of himself an impossible 
and an untenable condition. Emotional self-alienation means alienation from reality. 
Similarly when his emotional attitude towards another real being (human or otherwise) 
is unstable, when he hates what he formerly loved, his individuality may be far more 
perturbed than when he merely changes his opinions. A man may be a fool 
intellectually, or intellectually unbalanced, without any serious disturbance to his 
individuality or to his neighbours, provided his emotional responses are healthy, i.e. 
directed outwards and are uniform ; but no man can be emotionally unbalanced with 
safety to himself or others. Hence it is that in social life, where emotion plays such a 
large part, it is far more important to be virtuous than to be intelligent. 


may take up towards the real world. Nature with all its forces 
plays upon, and is intertwined with, our physical substance long 
before we begin to think connectedly about nature, and even 
before we begin to act upon it. Our active disposal of nature is 
indeed very limited in its scope, largely because of the small 
amount of physical energy we possess relatively to the vast 
complex of the forces of the natural world. As for our intel- 
lectual grasp of nature, that is in many ways more restricted 
than our active control, not merely in the sense that very few 
human beings are really capable of any profitable intellectual 
activity at all, but in the sense that the energy of our intellect 
has to be narrowly selective to be effectively engaged even for 
the short interval of time that we can use it. But in emotion 
the individual responds to the concrete world as fully and as 
continuously as the life of the individual makes possible. It is 
not restricted by the conditions of nature or of thought. The 
individual can revere and admire where he cannot comprehend ; 
he ca.n hope and long for what he cannot achieve ; he can fear 
where he cannot control ; he can love where intellect and action 
are alike impotent to achieve their * ends. 1 Emotion in short, 
because it is a fuller realisation of the living individual than 
either action or thinking, can meet the real at more points, can 
adjust the individual to his world in a greater variety of ways 
than is possible for these other functions. It is not merely 
fuller in the sense that it embraces in its state both the psychic 
and physical, mind and body, but also in the equally important 

1 It does not seem fanciful and it may be worth while to suggest a comparison 
between the variety of emotions of which the individual is capable and the variety of 
conceptions or categories by which the intellect of man has sought to interpret or to 
grasp reality in the sphere of knowledge. These categories of the intellect are 
ultimately different expressions of the one principle or function of mental unity by 
which and in relation to which the intellect seeks to render the world intelligible. 
The various emotions similarly may be said to be the endlessly varied ways in which 
the living individual seeks to maintain its single life in face of and in co-existence 
with the endlessly complex realm of real beings making up the world of which he is a 
part. They are so many kinds of adjustments of the psycho-physical constituted 
individual to his total environment. They each express a distinct attitude towards 
the real, because the real in each case, being distinctive in nature, calls for a dis- 
tinctive emotional attitude. And all of them maintain the individual in his 
independent reality and give him a new or distinct sense of his own independence. 


sense that it carries within its operation, in a way which know- 
ledge and action cannot do, the dormant but none the less 
potent heritage of the past from which the individual physically 
and psychically has come, and which so very largely makes 
him what he is. By inheritance the individual is rooted in a 
real world which he has personally never known, in which 
personally he has had no direct share, and of the existence of 
which he only becomes aware in the spontaneous and irresistible 
welling up of an emotion out of the instinctive operations and 
subconscious or unconscious depths of his individuality. The 
conditions which give rise to an emotion are largely prepared 
before the emotion is displayed. They were formed by circum- 
stances and situations of which he has no memory ; and they 
link his life to that of his family, his race, and the powers of 
organic and inorganic nature operating in the dateless darkness 
of the past history of the world. In fresh emotions the individual 
is invariably surprised into the consciousness of the resources of 
his own individuality ; a new emotion is literally a discovery of 
himself. This is what gives the emotional life its interest, its 
influence, and sometimes its terror. The individual does not 
know beforehand how he will emotionally respond, and he moves 
about in a world which is emotionally unrealised, and which may 
at any time startle him by its presence and startle him into 
a new sense of himself. 1 This incalculable character of the 
emotions, and their complete independence of his will or his 
thought or his choice, is precisely what gives him at once the 
consciousness of his own independent reality, and the conscious- 
ness of the independent reality of the other beings to which his 
emotions are a response. For inevitableness, incalculability 
and independence are of the very essence of reality wherever 
found, even by the intellect. 

There is no such connection between the past and the present 
in the operations of the intellect or deliberate action. These, 
we say, are in our power, under our control. They deal with 

1 This seems one reason why many individuals are reluctant to place themselves 
in novel or unfamiliar situations. They dislike to discover a new emotional response 
in themselves. They are in doubt whether the response created may not be unpleasant 
or call for powers of " self-control," i.e, control in terms of their normal self, to 
which they may not be equal. 


the " truth as it is " or with the situation as it is found, and seek 
to interpret or to control it by ends or ideas which owe no 
allegiance to or derive no authority from the past. It is for 
that reason that thinking and action give us a sense of liberty, 
which we do not experience in the life of emotion. And it is 
for the same reason that the sense of reality which they can 
give seems more restricted both in range and vividness than that 
supplied by emotion. 

But emotion does more than give a sense of our own distinc- 
tive individuality and of the independent reality of other beings. 
Important as this is for our experience of the world, it is the 
less ^important part of the contribution of emotion to our conscious- 
ness of reality. Through the response of emotion the individual 
discovers his organic connection with other beings in a form which 
promotes or represses his sense of distinctive individuality. This 
organic union varies in extent and in degree conformably to the 
kind of beings with which he is confronted, and the emotion 
varies accordingly. Some beings challenge the existence of his 
individuality, and these he meets with the emotion of resentment, 
dislike, fear, anger, hate, etc. Others increase or sustain his 
individual life, and towards these he experiences the emotions of 
sympathy, affection, love, etc. In general those which do not 
imperil his individuality are held to accept it, and in that sense to 
support it, and to these correspond such emotions as curiosity, 
admiration, wonder, hope, etc. It cannot justly be said that in all 
cases he first judges other beings to have an import for his 
individuality, and then responds emotionally according to such 
import. The emotional state is autonomous and self-complete. 
In the emotion the individual is conscious of the character of the 
object. The emotion conveys the quality of the real, and is not 
merely inseparable from that quality but indistinguishable from it. 
For the emotion is an experience of the organic relationship 
which the individual occupies to the real world, and is irreducible 
to further elements. It is only by analysis, and not in fact, that 
the distinction we have above drawn can be formulated. To 
have a certain emotion is to be conscious of the real as being 
of a certain quality which concerns the maintenance of the 
individual life. 


It is only through the growth and development of experi- 
ence that the varying extent of organic kinship with other 
beings is discovered by the individual. But this development is 
largely aided by other non-emotional functions, such as reflection, 
action, social intercourse, and also by the personal discipline 
supplied by experiment, trial, and error. To begin with, it 
appears, for example, that there is no distinction drawn in terms of 
the emotions between living and non-living beings. The emotions 
towards both are in all essentials the same at first, and only in 
later experience do they call forth specifically distinct emotions. 
Even in later life we find, at least in undisciplined natures, that 
the emotions towards living and non-living beings are often the 
same : relatively civilised adults will be found, for example, to be 
angry with or to curse a badly working machine as much as the 
maker. Similarly, little distinction in emotion is experienced at 
first towards the various forms of living beings, which in later 
experience give rise to different emotions. An individual will be 
as frightened of a plant as of an animal. And here, too, we find 
survivals in what is normally considered developed experience : 
for we find adults who spend on cats and dogs the emotions which 
are, as we say, more appropriate towards human beings. All 
this serves to show the more vividly the essential character of 
emotion as a conscious state in which the individual becomes 
aware of his organic union or kinship with the real. For 
emotion as a state of the psycho-physical individual is a function 
of his whole life, and operates with the intensity of life much 
earlier and more persistently than reflective knowledge. At 
the uncritical stage of experience, the organic relationship 
with the real, found in emotion, is felt, so to say, as a relation 
of organisms equally real and equally organic to each other. 1 
So much does emotion give the sense of organic union with 
the real, that in later experience individuals will be found who 

1 This in part, perhaps, may account for primitive animism. But it can hardly be 
true to say either that primitive animism is the result of the conscious projection of 
soul life into other non-living beings or that it is the attempt at an interpretation of 
the world in terms of man's soul life. Both of these views imply powers of imagina- 
tion and intellect which cannot be ascribed to a primitive or undeveloped mind. A 
mind that could do so much as that is either not primitive or would be able to do 
very much more than primitive minds actually accomplish. 


imaginatively represent even material things as alive in order 
all the more closely to realise their organic relationship with the 
object of emotion. 

But as the result of disciplined emotional experience other 
beings are found to vary in their degree of nearness or intimate 
union with the individual, and the emotions come to vary 
accordingly. Physical objects are found to have a different 
emotional interest from living beings ; and to impede or assist 
our sense of individuality less than living creatures. Where the 
individual at first felt fear at the sight of a curiously shaped stone 
or a falling star, he comes to experience curiosity or wonder or 
delight, while living beings still retain their mysterious " influence " 
over his own life. The former are found by experience to have 
a lower degree of affinity with his own reality than the latter. 
The affinity of physical beings is, in fact, as he discovers, limited 
to community of physical reality spatial and material or 
energetic mainly which he shares with physical objects, but 
which, he finds, do not exhaust his own individuality. His 
emotions towards physical objects vary accordingly. 1 Similarly 
living beings come to be differentiated from one another 
according to the varying degree of intimacy of organic relation- 
ship with his being which he discovers each to have. With 
living beings of his own kind his emotional union is greatest, for 
these possess the highest degree of organic kinship with himself. 
They affect him more deeply, and in more varied ways, and to a 
greater extent than other living beings. Amongst human 
beings again there is emotional differentiation both in degree and 
in extent according to the character of the organic kinship. 
Towards human beings of his own family and tribe he has one 
kind of emotional relationship, another to human beings be- 
longing to other tribes, another towards human beings belonging 
simply to the human race. 

1 The discovery of this differentiation between physical and living beings must 
have been one of the most momentous in the history of the human race. It marks 
the dividing line between science and religion, the economic order and the moral 



The emotional education of human beings, of which this 
differentiation of real objects is the counterpart, is a long process, 
and a difficult process. The earlier emotional attitudes do not 
disappear easily, and survivals of them are constantly re-appearing 
even in the latest stages of individual development. The 
obstinate persistence of superstition is a familiar illustration of 
the continuance of earlier emotional states. Such superstitions 
sometimes affect whole peoples, sometimes tribes, sometimes 
individuals. They indicate how deeply emotion enters into the 
varied structure and constitution of the individual's being, body 
and soul, and how it can concentrate into its operation even the 
instinctive racial inheritance from a forgotten past. In like 
manner we find peculiar instances of emotional survival in what 
may be called emotional obsessions affecting particular in- 
dividuals. Individuals are found, for example, who have an 
emotional disturbance amounting even to horror of certain purely 
physical objects, others in the presence of certain living non- 
human objects. 1 And in all individuals it may be said the 
development of emotional adjustment is only partially completed. 
A large part of the education of individuals in a civilised com- 
munity consists in the articulation and co-ordination of their 
emotions, so as to secure the most satisfying and satisfactory 
organic union with real objects ; and this education is rarely 
finished even under the most favourable circumstances. 

It must be noted that the differentiation of the real in the 
interests of the organic relationship to the real experienced in 
emotion, does not eliminate emotion ; it merely changes its 
character. Real beings of whatever kind, however slight their 
affinity with the individual life, always give rise to an emotion of 
some sort, for the simple reason that they form part of reality 
with ourselves, and so concern our consciousness of individuality. 
If it be only in the emotion of boredom, we make an emotional 
adjustment to them. Hence it is that even in the scientific 

1 One distinguished British general, now dead, had a horror of the sea ; another, 
equally distinguished, was disturbed beyond self-control at the presence of a cat in the 
room, and felt the disturbance before he saw the cat. 


attitude towards an object there is an emotional aura. It may at 
first sight appear that the scientific mood is hostile to the 
emotional attitude towards the real object. This view is often 
advanced as an essential characteristic of science. The elimination 
of the emotional attitude towards an object is even said to be one 
of the aims of science. But this view arises from a confusion, or 
a misunderstanding, of the facts. The detachment of the mind 
from a certain emotional attitude towards an object is un- 
doubtedly necessary for the purposes of a scientific understanding 
of it. But this means no more than that science is incompatible 
with the simultaneous presence of certain emotions. This indeed 
is obvious : we cannot strive to understand an object of which we 
are at the same time afraid. But to conclude from the necessity 
of eliminating certain emotions towards an object in the interest 
of science, that science requires the elimination of all emotions 
towards the object, is a transparent logical fallacy. What 
actually happens is, on the one hand, that scientific interest in the 
object implies the operation of an emotional attitude towards the 
object peculiar to and compatible with science the emotions, e.g., 
of wonder, curiosity, power ; and on the other, that the scientific 
comprehension of the real gives rise in its course and at its 
termination to new emotions towards the object. Why should 
science be supposed to be external to the whole life of the 
individual ? If action requires and implies emotion, why should 
science dispense with emotion ? To alter or to correct an 
emotional attitude towards an object is not to do away with the 
emotional attitude, and involves no derogation from the im- 
portance of emotion for the individual life, any more than 
altering or correcting our ideas of an object implies that we need 
have no ideas of an object or that ideas have no value. 


The emotional differentiation of real objects is necessitated 
by the finite individual life so as to establish a co-ordinated, 
regular, and calculable organic relationship with the plurality of 
real beings with which the individual is confronted and with 
which he co-exists. It is not undertaken for theoretical or 


cognitive purposes. Knowledge has its own way of differentiating 
the real world, for its ends are different from those of emotion. 
A variety of emotions is required in the long run because of the 
variety of real beings on the one hand, and the need for continuous 
organic union with every form of reality, if the individual is 
to preserve his sense of individuality amongst and in contra- 
distinction from other individual beings. To have one emotion 
towards all finite beings is the same as to have no emotion, or 
sense of individuality, at all. Doubtless social intercourse, 
tradition, common inheritance and other influences play their 
part in facilitating and developing the various emotional attitudes 
to different real beings. And doubtless intelligence as such 
plays an active co-operating part in the process of development, 
just, as conversely, the emotional development reacts upon and 
facilitates the work of intelligence in generalising and co-ordinating 
knowledge of the real. Again, some real beings are found to 
make greater, more complex, more constant and deeper demands 
on the emotional responsiveness of the individual life than other 
beings, and with such realities the individual's organic relation- 
ship is more permanent, more intimate and more complete than 
with others. Relatively to the former, the latter are further 
removed from his inmost life, and may be treated as subordinate 
and even incidental or external. Hence with the former he 
may, for purposes of keeping up and regulating the relationship, 
establish conditions of interdependence which are impossible in 
the latter case. Thus with human beings the individual's organic 
relationship is far more intimate, complex, and complete than 
with sub-human living beings or with the non-living things of 
nature. Out of and because of this deeper emotional conscious- 
ness between the individual and other human beings there arises 
that peculiar organisation of the emotional life of man which we 
have in human society. Human society is a condition of existence 
created to keep up and cultivate this complete organic relationship 
between individual human beings, a relationship which is discovered 
to be a fact of experience in the course of emotional development. 
The intimacy, the intensity, or again the " preciousness " of human 
society, has its roots in the emotional experience of individuals 
or in the organic relationship to the real which emotion expresses. 


It is no accident in individual life ; it is not the creation of 
deliberate reflection, and is certainly not the outcome of cognitive 
experience. Beings capable of exercising reflection or knowledge 
sufficient to create so complex and intimate a fact as society, 
could go much further along the path of knowledge than as a 
fact primitive peoples are found to do. Society is closer to the 
existence of the individual life than knowledge ; it arises out 
of emotional responses which concentrate the whole life of 
individuality, body and soul. The greater part of the operations 
by which society is maintained, consist accordingly in the 
management and cultivation of emotional responses between the 
component individuals of a society. Hence it is that the laws of 
a society are for the most part rules for controlling and directing 
emotional responses between individuals. Virtues are habits of 
adjusting the emotions in specific circumstances of social life. 
Character is a permanent disposition of the emotional life of the 
individual established in the interests of his organic relationship 
to his fellows. The highest expression for the creed of human 
society has generally been formulated in terms of the emotions 
love, benevolence, kindness. Because society has thus arisen 
out of the deep organic relationship between the individual life 
and other real beings so close in nature to his own individuality, 
society has always been maintained with so much passionate 
enthusiasm and intensity. The individual, as we say, cannot 
even imagine himself apart from society with his fellows ; it is as 
enduring as his very life. 

But however important the part which social existence plays 
in the individual's life, we are not justified in adopting a view 
which has become so very prevalent as to be accepted as a 
fundamental truth. It is inaccurate to say that society is " prior 
to the individual," as if society were a reality of its own which 
created individuals. The only real life in a society is the in- 
dividual life. Society is a construction elaborated by individuals 
in the interest of that more fundamental organic relationship to 
the real which emotional experience establishes. The emotional 
experience out of which society springs is a specific case of the 
individual's emotional communion with the real beings com- 
prising his environing world. And the essential character of his 


emotional life remains when society has been constructed, and no 
matter how elaborate the society. That character, as we have 
seen, lies in the consciousness of distinctive individuality as a real 
among reals. Emotion expresses this and sustains it. Be the 
organic relationship with other real beings as deep and complete 
as even society can supply, that distinctiveness of individual being 
is never lost or lost sight of. It may, by the regulations of 
society, be repressed or even suppressed, but it is never ex- 
tinguished. It constantly asserts and reasserts itself, not merely 
in the behaviour of the selfish will, but in the demands of the 
reformer, in the aspirations and claims of the higher life, and, it 
may be, in an ideal of " individual freedom " which looks on 
society as mere condition of realising this distinctive individuality. 
By no manipulation of the resources of human society is it 
possible to merge individuals into one another completely. For 
the emotional origin of society requires that the distinctive 
life of individuality, of which emotion is the conscious expression, 
must be maintained in and through the operations of a society, 
which is devised to intensify, enrich, and sustain the consciousness 
of individuality and not to destroy it. If society were to obliterate 
this distinctiveness of being which emotion emphasises, it would 
thereby defeat its own purposes, for it would destroy the founda- 
tion of its own structure. But apart from this, such a result can 
never be accomplished for one simple and obvious reason. The 
whole of an individual's emotional life is not exhausted in the 
emotions which express his organic relationship to human in- 
dividuals. He is organically related to other beings in the real 
world besides human beings, and towards these he exhibits 
other and different but equally potent emotions. These emotions 
also maintain and sustain his consciousness of distinctive individual 
life in his interdependence with other beings. In relation to 
these other beings, e.g. the realities of environing nature, he does 
not lose but constantly asserts, and is conscious of successfully 
asserting, his distinctive reality. The sense of distinctive being 
which he thus possesses is not lost when he stands in intimate 
relation with his fellows, and is not obliterated by any degree of 
social communion. It is not in the least affected by his emotional 
union with human beings in a society. And just on that account 


it renders absolutely impossible the complete or even partial 
merging of his individuality in a society of human individuals. 
The sense of individuality which he has in certain of his 
emotional attitudes towards non-human beings, will always resist 
and will of itself defeat any of the devices of society to diminish 
or cancel his sense of individuality within society. In a word, the 
organic relationship with other human beings expressed in the 
emotions from which society springs, constitutes but one part of 
his single indivisible individual life, which is emotionally directed 
towards many other beings besides human individuals, and is 
conscious through emotion of its distinctiveness from each and 
all alike. 1 The sense of individuality which he possesses in his 
organic relationship to other non-human beings is neither lost 
nor diminished by social experience ; on the contrary, it may be 
said to be strengthened and intensified, for in social processes 
the organic relationship is or tends to be as nearly as possible 
reciprocal. Each individual in the organisation of society sustains 
his own emotional distinctiveness from every other and indirectly 
assists others in maintaining theirs. The reciprocal organic 
relationship between individuals constituting a society involves 
action and reaction, attraction and repulsion of individuals. 

Beings other than man do not arouse the emotional responses 
of the individual to the same extent or degree of complexity and 
intimacy. The organic communion with non-human beings is 
sustained by other emotions than those constituting a society of 
human individuals. We may speak of men having fellowship 
with sub-human animals and plants. But language of this 
character is an exaggeration of the power of the emotional life. 

1 If the view against which I am contending that society is prior, or that 
the individual merges his individuality in some social unity were true, then the 
individual would literally have no life or existence or interests outside his actual 
society, for there would be no "individuality" left to face and deal with beings other 
than social beings. Such a consequence is transparent nonsense. 

It is unfortunate that the successful work done by Sociology and social psychology 
should have led writers into exaggeration and error. There is no ground, e.g. % for 
maintaining that the consciousness of self is solely and altogether a social product. 
Given an individual's relation to nature (even physical nature), and given memory, a 
human individual would surely arrive at a consciousness of self. 

A social self can, of course, only be arrived at through society ; but a social self 
is only one kind of consciousness of self. 


However close and real our organic relationship with other non- 
human individuals may be, it always falls short of being what 
human association is, viz. mutual, correlative, and reciprocal. 
Individuals other than human give rise to emotions which even 
at the best always imply a certain degree of remoteness or 
estrangement from us, and a certain limit to the range of possible 
emotional intimacy with us. 1 This does not mean that they are 
more than we : it seems rather to imply that they are less. Our 
organic relationship with our world is realised through varying 
degrees of kinship and communion ; and only through the most 
varied emotional responses can we reach our full sense of 
individuality in a world of real beings. Thus love and hate are 
reserved for that organic relationship with other individuals 
where possible communion is greatest and most complete. 2 
Desire and dislike can be felt both towards beings who are at 
our own level of individuality and towards beings lower than 
and relatively remote from our plane of individuality ; while the 
emotion of curiosity is experienced where the reality we confront 
is far removed from and almost external to our own being. 3 
Beings at the circumference of our organic relationship to the 
world are beyond our hate or our sympathy. It seems to 
developed experience merely incongruous and absurd, for 
example, to hate or love purely physical things. Our emotional 
attitude towards these takes on a different complexion. In short, 
while the whole range and complex of our emotional life may be 
displayed towards beings whose organic relationship to ourselves 
is greatest, we may be intellectually curious even regarding our 

1 It is an interesting speculation to picture imaginatively what the emotional life 
of human beings would be if all individual beings other than human disappeared and 
only human individualities constituted the world. 

2 See Wordsworth's verses on Loving and Liking. 

a This throws an interesting light on the character and purpose of mere knowledge 
in human experience. It is remarkable that knowledge seems to be at its best and to 
be most readily undertaken when the real seems quite external to or indifferent 
towards human individuals, e.g. spatial realities and spatially constituted material 
beings. Bergson has made much of this point. It is worth noting also that the 
difference between the Western and the Eastern mind seems to turn on the natural 
capacity of the former and the innate incapacity of the latter for emotional detachment 
from material beings. 


neighbours the._Qxtent and variety of our emotions diminish 
the further real beings are from our own level of individuality. 

It is interesting to observe that the further removed other real 
objects are from our plane of being, the more the awakening of 
the emotional response is initiated by the operation of sub- 
conscious instincts and the adjustments of mere sense ex- 
perience. 1 This is inevitable, for our senses and organic 
instincts are the only organs of our union with real beings which 
are remotest from our level of individuality. Our emotional 
responses to human beings, on the other hand, are not, at least 
in developed experience, called forth solely or mainly by sense 
perception. Human beings affect us emotionally, as we say, by 
their very presence, by their whole " personality/' and this goes 
deeper into our life and into theirs than sense can penetrate. 2 


The emotional differentiation of individual things falling 
within the individual's environing world is only carried as far as 
the demands of self-maintenance require. It varies from race to 
race, from society to society, and from individual to individual. 
It is a differentiation of individual beings within a relative 
totality whose extent surpasses and embraces the plurality of 
reals falling within it. With this larger realm of the real the 
individual has likewise to lay his account, for with this larger 
realm he is, and seeks to maintain his individuality, in organic 
relationship. It contains human and other beings, and therefore 

1 As is remarked by a well-known writer, "It is the way of some places with 
some men. The senses perceive a hostility for which the mind has no proof, and in 
my experience the senses are right." 

* This is illustrated in an interesting way by the subtle "sensitiveness" in the 
emotional response of certain persons in the presence of others. To some individuals 
they will feel an " instinctive dislike," toothers an "instinctive sympathy" ; in the 
presence of certain individuals a "sense of elevation," in other cases a "sense of 
depression. " These emotional states do not originate from perception, or from ideas 
communicated or from any action ; and no reason can be assigned for the form the 
emotions take. They are emotional reactions expressing the concord or discordance 
of the underlying psycho-physical composition of one person in the presence of the 
other. The reactions may so seriously affect the individual's mental and nervous 
structure as to disturb his self-control. 


the emotions from which society springs are not the emotions 
called forth by this larger Reality. It encounters him always, 
and encompasses him everywhere. It engages his senses to 
their fullest extent, but is more than any particular sense can 
reach or all the particular senses together can exhaust ; and even 
the unconscious and sub-conscious instincts of his being are not 
adequate to it. It appeals to his sensuous and non-sensuous 
energies alike and simultaneously. It is a presence and a power 
at once, disturbing him " with the joy of elevated thoughts," or 
with the " fear that kills, the hope that is unwilling to be fed." 
It has in a peculiar degree the characteristics of reality: 
permanence, independence of any thought or action of our own, 
irresistibility. From particular real beings, even from our 
fellows, we can escape ; but from this all encompassing Reality 
there is no escape. Towards individual real beings our emotions 
vary indefinitely, and some emotions can be altered profoundly. 
But towards this persistent Reality our emotions are restricted in 
range and only modifiable within narrow limits, if at all. Our 
emotional attitude towards this domain of reality takes on special 
forms which reflect the nature of the reality with which we are 
here concerned. 

On the one hand, our organic union with this Reality is the 
completest possible. The Reality both contains ourselves "and 
transcends us : it is within us and beyond us. It is thus utterly 
outside our control for any finite purpose of our own, and yet so 
intimately one with us that there is no escape from it at any 
time. On the other hand, in virtue of our emotional attitude 
towards this Reality, we are aware of our distinctiveness of being 
within it. But the emotions awakened are stirred within us by 
this Reality which contains us ; they are felt to be as much its 
expressions through us as our emotions towards it ; its realisation 
within us as much as our sense of its Reality ; its incorporation of 
us in its nature as our organic union with its being. Hence, 
whereas emotional experience towards particular beings tends to 
emphasise or even overemphasise our distinction from them so 
that with many of them our difficulty is to feel our union to be 
sufficiently complete, our emotional experience towards the 
larger encompassing Reality tends to emphasise our union with 


this Reality so much that our difficulty often is to feel our sense 
of real distinctiveness from it, 1 

These characteristics are clearly apparent in the emotions 
which' this Reality calls forth. They are of two kinds. The 
inclusive Reality is all we are and is more than ourselves. It is 
in that sense impersonal. The emotions stirred within us by this 
impersonal character of the Reality are the emotions of beauty, 
and the kindred emotions of sublimity. Through these we 
realise the very presence within us of an abiding and an eternal 
Reality, which blends our souls with itself, and at the same time 
fulfils our being with the sense of joy which beauty brings, or the 
sense of elevation which sublimity supplies. These emotions 
are a supreme expression of our complete organic union with 
our whole world. They betray the underlying continuity of 
structure between our individuality and the nature of Reality, a 
continuity so complete that it penetrates our very organs of 
perception as well as the innermost recesses of our souls. The 
emotions of beauty stirred within us seem inseparable from, or 
even indistinguishable from, the Reality without us ; seem as much 
its expression as our own life. So complete is the union, that it 
seems indifferent whether the emotions of beauty are initiated 
within and identified with what is without, or are initiated 
without and identified with what is within. In both cases the 
emotions are equally spontaneous and equally compelling. So 
sure are we of our oneness with the world in the experience of 
beauty that when we produce it for ourselves we still regard it as 
the outcome of the nature of the world. Indeed, so profoundly 
can our emotional union with this Reality control us that it can 
shut off the influences of the organic senses, and we are impelled 
to embody this deep emotional kinship in forms which will 
convey, interpret, or express "outwardly" the union we thus 
experience. 2 We can create beauty as well as find it, so fully 

1 It is, perhaps, for this reason amongst others that the emotional experience of 
the all inclusive Reality is required to supplement and counteract the effect of our 
emotional attitude towards finite beings. 

2 Cf. Wagner's remark: "There ought to be in us an internal sense which 
becomes clear"ano r active when all the other senses, directed outward, sleep or dream. 
It is precisely when I no longer see or hear anything distinctly that this sense is the 
most active and appears before me as the producer of calm. I can give it no other 



does the emotion of beauty blend us with that ultimate Reality 
which is also creative. 1 It is in a sense indifferent what form the 
expression takes whether poetry, painting, or music. The choice 
of the form of artistic expression is a matter of individuality ; one 
form appeals more directly to one individual, another to another. 
It is the same emotional union which is expressed whether the 
expression be through sound or colour or any other medium. In 
all cases the impulse to create and embody beauty in the real 
world has its source in the fundamental emotional union with the 
world. For, by works of beauty created by human energy to fill 
our world/we but make this world more intimately and explicitly 
our own and fuse it with our lives. We, so to say, proclaim that 
we are one with the real by utilising the physical and other 
resources of the world to embody and confirm our sense of one- 
ness with it in a manner which awakens the emotion of beauty. 

It is remarkable, too, that the emotion of beauty is not 
dependent on time or place or size or any other specific 
character which finite things may possess. The emotional union 
may come through any channel and be realised at any point. 
For the Reality we here experience is present in all and at all 
times, and the sense of its presence may be awakened within us 
by any element falling within it. Each element, in fact, becomes 
in a manner a symbol of the presence of this all-containing 
Reality, and its presence shines through each and all alike. The 
grass of the field may be enough to stir an emotion of beauty, 
which touches the individual to the finest issues of his being, and 
transports him with a sense of his union with a perfected Reality. 
To the heart which " watches and receives " the meanest flower 
that blows may give the " thoughts that do often lie too deep for 
tears." At any time there may be given 

" To one brief moment caught from fleeting time 
The appropriate calm of blest eternity." 

So complete is the union with this inclusive Reality established 

term. It acts from within to without and through it I feel myself to be at the centre 
of the, \vojid." Letter s^ quoted by Combarieu, Music: its Laws and Evohttion. 
1 Cf. "So o'er that art which you say adds to nature, 

Is an art which nature makes." 

As you like it, 


by the emotions of beauty that these emotions become channels 
of communion between the individual and the real. The beauty 
is both within and without and the emotions are shared by and 
with the real. This is no metaphor ; for the experience we are 
considering, it holds in very literality. To the individual capable 
of this experience, the moment comes when 

1 * Love, now a universal birth, 

From heart to heart is stealing, 
From earth to man, from man to earth : 
It is the hour of feeling ; ;} 

and the mind drinks at every pore " the spirit of the season." 
The union is not only felt on one side. The finite real is equally 
and in the same sense at one with its containing world. 

" The summer flower is to the summer sweet, 
Though to itself it only bloom and die." l 

The emotion need not necessarily be awakened by some particular 
object from without. The emotion need not be concentrated on 
a special area of the real. It may be a comprehensive mood in 
which the encompassing Reality is felt as a living presence 
inseparably continuous with the individual, disturbing him with 
the "joy of elevated thoughts : " 

" that serene and blessed mood 
In which the affections gently lead, us on, 
Until, the breath of this corporeal flame 
And even the motion of our human blood 
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep 
In body, and become a living souL" 

It is in these deeper and more comprehensive moods that the 
fuller union and communion with the real is felt from which spring 
the emotions expressed in the highest flights of Art. 

The emotional life we are here concerned with is veritable 
experience ; it fulfils and sustains the individual life, and it 
expresses the nature of the real. It is no more possible for the 
individual to dispute the claims of these emotions to a place in 
his experience than to dispute the emotions in which, as we have 
indicated, social existence rests. Criticism in the interests of 

1 Cp. also " 'Tis my faith that every flower 

Enjoys the air it breathes/' 


knowledge is irrelevant ; for such emotions have no essential 
connection with, or dependence on, reflection. They are as self- 
contained as knowledge in its sphere claims to be, and have laws 
and conditions of their own for which the laws and conditions of 
knowledge are no substitute. We have here, in short, an 
experience as distinctive in its kind from reflective knowledge, as 
reflective knowledge is from action or perception. Just as 
perception conveys a consciousness of the real world which 
reflection cannot supply or set aside ; so the emotions of 
beauty bring us into union with the real in a manner which 
brooks no interference from reflective knowledge. Indeed, these 
emotions may give us a sense of union with the encompassing 
Reality which is more complete and satisfying than the best 
efforts of knowledge can achieve. This is perhaps because the 
emotions demand no definition of the reality with which union is 
felt, whereas definition is of the essence of reflective knowledge. 1 
The spontaneity, the insistence, and the fullness of individuality 
which the emotions supply, are their sole and sufficient guarantee 
of their certainty and of the sincerity of the experience. The 
defeat of the intellect in its search for rounded definiteness of 
comprehension does not disturb the security of the emotional 
life. On the contrary, the consciousness of the defeat of the 
intellect may prove the opportunity for the emotional union, 

" Peace settles where the intellect is meek." 

In spite of the failure of the intellect we may be possessed 
by the mood 

** In which the burthen of the mystery, 
In which the heavy and the weary weight 
Of all this unintelligible world 
Is lightened." 

1 There is, in fact, no clear-cut conception of the encompassing Reality involved in 
that experience of it which we have through the emotions of beauty. On the basis of 
these emotions we may, of course, seek to interpret the Reality, and may, re- 
flectively, interpret it in intellectual terms; but this is after-reflection not direct 



In addition to the emotions of beauty, the organic union of 
the individual with the all-inclusive Reality takes on a completely 
personal form which assumes distinctive emotional expression, 
quite as certain and quite as spontaneous as the emotions of 
beauty. It is not merely because the all-inclusive Reality 
contains human beings, and thus is only more than human in 
the sense of being superhuman ; it is also because the organic 
union of the individual with this Reality is so complete that the 
intimacy of personal relationship is essential in order to experience 
as fully as possible the closeness of the union which the individual 
has with it. For the peculiarity of personal relationship at its 
best is thoroughgoing reciprocity of communion on both sides. 1 

It must be carefully noted that this way of experiencing the 
union is not the result of argument or of reasoned convictions 
of any kind. The individual who responds emotionally to this 
Reality as personal, never begins by explaining or demonstrating 
that this Reality is a person or is personal, and never imagines 
that such a demonstration is necessary for the purpose of justify- 
ing his experience. Demonstration and reasoning are purely 
intellectual processes. The emotional attitude is non-intellectual, 
and carries its own assurance in its own state, and its warrant in 
the complete satisfaction which the emotion supplies. At best, 
reasoning about the personal character of this Reality is an 
afterthought ; it may support, it cannot supplant, and in the long 
run cannot disturb, the security of the emotional attitude. It is 
simply because the organic union with this Reality is absolute 
and irresistible in its insistence, that the individual fs impelled 
to respond to the Reality in terms of reciprocal personal emotion. 
And his experience is its own justification, for in fact he does 
find that the Reality responds to him emotionally. 

The kinds of emotion experienced in this case range from 

1 The emotions of beauty are defective primarily and perhaps solely in this 
respect. It is true that not all individuals feel this defect very acutely. Hence 
some individuals find all the satisfaction which their union with the all-inclusive 
Reality can supply through the channel of the emotions of beauty alone. Those who 
find the completest satisfaction through a personal relationship tend to subordinate 
the emotions of beauty to this personal relationship. 


the fear which separation from this super-personal Reality 
invariably brings, to the love in which perfected and complete 
reciprocal personal relationship is found. The communion is 
so intimate and is so assured, that the individual adopts, and 
successfully adopts, some of the fundamental processes and forms 
of finite personal relationship to sustain, to cultivate, and to 
establish ever more firmly the organic personal union with this 
Reality. By such means he seeks, for example, to escape from 
the state of fear or to reach the attitude of love. The individual 
speaks to this superpersonal Reality, he seeks to appease this 
Reality, makes sacrifice to this Reality, offers gifts, and so on. 
Such means are more or less external, and are rather evidences 
of the sincerity of the actual union than conditions of creating 
it. The individual, in fact, never does feel the organic union give 
way. It is rooted in his emotional life, and if not felt in one way 
it is felt in another. If not felt in the emotion of reverence, or 
hope or security, it is felt in the pain and agony of fear. For 
fear is but an indirect assurance of how vital the union is ; we 
are never afraid of what does not intimately concern the very 
life of our individuality. 

On the other side, this super-personal Reality responds with 
the same intimacy to the individual. The desire at any time for 
a complete union is in fact met by an access of fuller life in 
the individual, an increase of confidence, a security of spirit, a 
peace that defies the disturbances of finite things and " passes 
understanding," because the understanding of finite things can 
neither produce it nor remove it. In maintaining the communion 
with this Reality the individual finds, simply as a fact of his 
experience, that his sense of security is increased, that he is 
pervaded by a sense of joy, spontaneous in its appearance and 
beyond his power to create by his own effort or by relationship 
to finite things. He finds that such emotions are not accidents 
in his experience ; for he discovers that they are and can be 
repeated and relied upon, when the appropriate emotional 
attitude towards the super-personal Reality is adopted. In short, 
as the result of experience the individual finds that this super- 
personal Reality is as completely in union with himself as he is 
or cares to be, or desires to be, with that Reality, and that he 


J&-.J3gver betrayed or disappointed. The emotions he thus 
experiences cannot deceive, for there is no deception about 
satisfaction or dissatisfaction, joy or fear ; they carry in them- 
selves their own guarantee of their significance for his in- 

Between fear at the one extreme and love at the other 
there are many intermediate emotional states in which the 
organic relationship is sustained ; l for there are various degrees of 
emotional realisation of the union owing to the fact that the 
individual is subject to finite conditions, finite limitations, and 
the restrictions imposed by space and time. There is, for 
example, the emotional attitude of confident assurance of union, 
which always implies a certain degree of detachment, due to the 
fact that the attitude is primarily assumed in the face of finite 
events and finite things. It is an emotional attitude which 
opposes and overcomes the power which finite reals have to 
separate, or interfere with, the individual's sense of complete 
union with the all-inclusive Reality in and by which his 
individuality is most of all secured. There is the emotional 
attitude of reverence and, again, of quietude and acquiescence, 
both of which are far removed from fear and yet are short of the 
highest emotion. There is, again, the emotion of hope, with which 
the individual faces the future course of events and feels his 
union with the all-containing Reality to be unchanged in spite of 
and through all coming changes. These and some others are 
positive emotions in which the individual experiences the vital 
union of himself with the inclusive personal Reality, but in 
different ways according to the situations of his life. In the 
attitude of love the union reaches its consummate and most 
vivid expression. 2 Love is at once the supreme emotional form 

1 It is interesting to notice that many emotional states which arc relevant in 
dealing with finite personal beings are irrelevant and impossible towards the all- 
inclusive Reality. Thus hatred is possible towards a definite being, generally a finite 
person. But hatred is meaningless as applied to the relationship of the individual to 
the super-personal Reality ; for this Reality cannot be excluded from the individual 
life. In Spinoza's phrase "No man can hat God." 

2 I do not wish to suggest that every one has, or is even capable of having, this level 
of emotional experience. That, however, does not affect the importance of the 
experience itself. To most people this " love of God " is at best a mere aspiration ; 


of organic union between persons and the supremely personal 
form of union. For in this attitude each is conscious of ful- 
filment and of reality to the utmost extent of which each is 
capable. No element of individuality is sacrificed. The very 
details of individuality, its specific qualities, are sustained and 
substantiated, since without them the individual would be the 
poorer, and love would be impoverished by their absence. The 
individual cannot give too much to achieve this love completely, 
and feels, indeed, that all resources are barely enough for the 
purpose. The very weaknesses of the individual become instru- 
mental to the attainment of full interdependence with the other, 
and are treasured on that account. Thus in this emotional state 
he feels his individuality sustained and preserved without 
diminution or suppression. And on the other side, love secures 
the equal independence and substantiality of the super-personal 
Reality. The love, to be complete, must be reciprocal, and is 
only felt by each to be complete when and because it is mutual. 
The desire of the individual for complete union with the all- 
inclusive Reality is answered by the love which fulfils the desire. 1 
Each feels in and through the other the love which is the basis 
of communion between both. Each is loved for the sake of the 
love which each possesses for the other. There is, therefore, no 
separation of interests, there is merely distinction of personal 
attitude, enough distinction to sustain each in reciprocal inter- 
dependence. There is complete identity of nature consistently 
with, and through, the diversity of persons holding communion 
one with the other. The persons are thus in as complete organic 
union as persons can be. No such love is possible between 
finite persons ; for it is not subject to change or limitation. The 

to some it is probably a real experience occasionally ; a few may have had this 
experience continuously, So far as my observation goes, I have known very few 
whose attitude towards life showed unmistakably that they had reached and could 
maintain this level. One has no doubt about those who sustain this attitude ; they 
reveal their experience by certain signs quickly recognisable by those competent to 
detect them. There is equally no doubt about those who have not this experience. 
The great majority of people may be prepared to believe in the experience ; but 
they go no further. In effect, the sense of reality of most human beings is singularly 
limited ; and the only way most people feel the presence of complete Reality in their 
lives is by being afraid of it. 

* Cp. Aristotle's phrase, /a^el &$ tpripfvov, Metaphysics, A, 1072. 


super-personal Reality includes all change and excludes all 
limitation. This love, therefore, endures and gives permanent 
subsistence to those who are possessed of it. It is a love which 
makes the individual one with the supreme Reality which shares 
the love. That such love is experienced requires no proof or 
justification ; it is its own guarantee, and doubt and distrust 
are alien to its composition. It is " felt " ; those possessed of 
it need no titles to their possession ; and those not possessed of it 
are not in a position even to dispute it. 

It is also the supremely personal form of union. No beings 
except persons can feel this attitude of emotional union. It 
cannot subsist between a person and what is either impersonal 
or less than personal. It requires personality at its utmost and 
at its best to achieve it. This again is a matter of experience, 
not a subject for disputation. Moreover, the union is felt to be 
complete only as a union between one person and another person. 
Supreme love is unique and undivided, and thus implies and 
requires singleness of personality on both sides. Thus the 
organic union with the super-personal Reality is always felt as 
a union with one supreme personality. It is not experienced in 
any other way. 1 Love is thus the final emotional attitude of 
the religious life. It is not to be created at will. Like every 
other emotion it is spontaneous, and inevitable at the same time ; 
and like every emotion it at once sustains the individual being 
and carries him beyond himself. It contains within it the 
assurance of the reality of its object. But unlike every other 
religious emotion it has within it no opposition, expressed or 
implied. The assurance of faith or the confidence of hope 
always implies a certain element of resistance from finite 
things ; and in the struggle with finite things they may prevail 
or they may not. But in the case of love opposition of every 
kind has finally disappeared. Love has no enemies in the realm 
of tinitude. It has overcome finitude with the strength of the 

1 It is interesting to note how the highest type of religious life thus finds its way, 
as it were by instinct, to a position which in intellectual language is described as 
monotheism. The healthy religious life requires as little assistance from theoretical 
or intellectual processes to carry on its experience, as the healthy moral individual 
requires a theory of ethics to enable him to be a good citizen. The discipline of 
buffering and joy may dispense with theory altogether. 


infinite love which includes all finite beings within itself. It is 
unperturbed even by the loss of finite existence. It is thus stronger 
than death, and on that account is a form of immortal life. 

Note (a) It is common to suppose that emotion is a kind of consequence or effect or 

product of an act of knowledge. It is difficult to attach any meaning to such language. 

The utmost that we can say is that sometimes an act of apprehension, perceptual or 

ideal, precedes the full realisation of a state of emotion. 13ut such antecedence is 

neither the ground nor the cause of the emotion itself, any more than the whistle of 

an engine, antecedent to the movement of a train, has any causal or logical connection 

with the subsequent alteration in the position of the train. If the statement were true 

it should follow that our emotion should increase with our knowledge, that the same 

kind and degree of knowledge would always produce the same sort of emotion, and 

that, as our knowledge increased, the same sort of emotion which we had at first 

would be intensified. In actual experience none of these results ensue. An increase 

in knowledge of an object may be accompanied by an entirely different emotion from 

that experienced in the first instance ; the same amount of knowledge is sometimes 

associated with quite different emotions ; and with an increase in knowledge there 

may go a diminished intensity of emotion. Illustiations of these facts will at once 

occur to any one acquainted with emotional experience. So far is it from being true 

that knowledge always precedes an emotion, an emotion may on the contrary precede 

knowledge, and may distort knowledge, 01 may make it impossible to sustain the 

cognitive attitude at all. What is, however, universally true is that in all emotions 

there is involved a consciousness of an object which in some way we apprehend. But 

this apprehension is merely one constituent factor in the state of emotion, and does 

not of itself determine the quality or character of the emotion, which i^> a reaction of the 

whole individuality, body and .soul, upon the real, for the sake of and in the interest of 

the individual itself. It is not even correct to say that the emotion merely attaches or 

gives a sense of value to the real. This would identify an emotion with a judgment 

a judgment of value, The judgment is a thought and an afterthought. The emotion 

is a specific state in which the individual is realised, a state in which his reality is 

fulfilled, which is cieated by his interdependence with the real, and by which not so 

much the value as the very nature of the real is brought home to him through the form 

of a condition of his whole being. The kind of emotion he has, arises out of the- 

living relation to the real world which constitutes his experience. That emotion 

expresses what the real is for him. 

Note (b) If it is inaccurate to ascribe the emotion to an antecedent act of knowledge, 
still more inaccurate is it to regard the emotion as starting from the body and passing 
to the mind, or vice versa. Either view would be unintelligible, but for the assumption 
of a kind of qualitative gap between body and mind. It is difficult, perhaps, to get 
rid of this crude image of the relation of body and mind. Metaphors, drawn from 
sense experience, and the spatial character of most thinking in philosophy, 
account ior the persistence of naive Cartesian dualism. Apart altogether from the 
familiar objections to such a view of emotion, which may he raised from the side of 
psychology, modern physical theories seem to render the view hardly intelligible. If 
matter and energy are to one another as an ion to an electric charge, the conception 
of the body as a separate spatially extended substance seems to disappear altogether. 


We kave to think of it as a concentration of the impalpable, unextended and imponder- 
able " ether," having a contour which maintains its form only to the partially reliable 
operation of perceptual experience. Since mind is but one of the highest kinds, 
probably the highest kind, of energy, the separation of body and mind, on which the 
above view of emotion turns, has no substantial justification. But apart from these 
objections, direct analysis of the actual experience of an emotion shows that we 
cannot at any moment in the life of our emotion distinguish the bodily manifestations 
from the processes of the soul which arc involved. An emotion is only an emotion 
when the single individual, body and soul, is suffused and permeated by this state of 
his being. The bodily manifestation nnd the mental process combine to form a single 
attitude of the individual's life. 



" Though our first studies and junior endeavours may style us Peripatetics, Stoics, 
or Academics, yet I perceive the wisest heads prove, at last, almost all Sceptics and 
stand like Janus in the field of Knowledge. I have, therefore, one common and 
authentic philosophy I learned in the schools, whereby I discourse and satisfy the 
reason of other men ; another more reserved and drawn from experience, whereby I 
content mine own." Religto Medici. 

" T am bound to suppose that for many persons metaphysics would issue ... in 
theoretical scepticism." BRADLEY, Truth and Realtly. 


THE late Professor Adamson once remarked in conversation 
with the writer that the great difficulty in philosophy is to draw 
a valid distinction at the outset. A detached student of the 
history of philosophy would not find it easy to say how many 
philosophers have surmounted the difficulty. The haunting 
doubt which hovers over the beginning as well as the end, the 
promises as well as the issues of philosophical reflection, is partly 
the source of the sceptical attitude and of theoretical scepticism. 
The constant recurrence of scepticism in the main channels of 
philosophical speculation is a clear indication of the inherent 
vitality of the sceptical mood in the human mind, and seems to 
show that it is no mere incidental phase of intellectual activity, 
but is probably due to the operation of elements inseparable 
from the very spirit of philosophy. 

In many cases it is doubtless true to say that scepticism has 
historically originated as a recoil from some form of intellectual 
dogmatism. But this is by no means universally true. Nor can 
it be held that in principle scepticism draws its life from hostility 
to positive statements professing to embody human knowledge. 



It may arise out of a desire for positive truth of a deeper kind 
than has yet been attained ; and where such hostility does exist, 
the scepticism may be very restricted in its scope, and be 
employed as a fighting force on the ramparts of another kind of 
dogmatism. 1 It is again inaccurate to maintain that final 
scepticism, even regarding ultimate things, necessarily creates a 
sense of despair or mental depression. When this does happen 
the result is temperamental : it implicitly assumes that positive 
knowledge is the normal, or " natural," mould in which human 
thought should be cast. This assumption, however, may itself 
be questioned ; for it is not difficult to imagine a type of mind 
which would find a sense of relief or satisfaction in the rejection 
of such an assumption and in the utter and complete freedom 
from intellectual restraint which is thereby gained. We can 
imagine a mind which would gladly be sceptical of scepticism 
and dogmatism alike and rejoice in its unchartered intellectual 
liberty. If this be so, we cannot regard as either proved or self- 
evident the position so often put forward that " the negations of 
scepticism rest ultimately on some positive basis." 

It is impossible to analyse the sceptical attitude profitably 
until we observe that, while scepticism is in general an intellectual 
rejection of finality of thought in some form or other, it differs 
from both doubt and denial. It may be directed upon many 
aspects of the experience we call knowledge, and it may be 
carried out with very different degrees of thoroughness. 

Scepticism is not simply doubt regarding a given proposition, 
whether the doubt be permanent or momentary. Doubt implies 
hesitation to accept, and therefore willingness to do so, if the 
proposition can be shown to be true. It is an attitude of the 
believing type of mind, or again of the scientific investigator, 
neither of whom can be rightly accused of scepticism. Scepticism 
takes up an attitude of assurance regarding a proposition ; it 
holds that the statement in its actual form cannot be really 
defended, and that any similarly positive statement regarding 
the object in question will find itself in the same position. 

Scepticism, again, is not mere denial. Negation is a specific 

1 This was the case, for instance, with the early Italian sceptics of the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. 


exclusion from a given region of truth and implies a whole of 
some sort in reference to which, and indeed in the interests 
of which, a negation is put forward. It is a normal condition of 
securing definiteness in the pursuit and formulation of a true 
judgment or arrangement of judgments. If the course of our 
ideas has to be regulated and restricted in order to convey 
accurately the meaning of things, this involves the rejection of 
ideas which turn us from our purpose. Scepticism goes much 
further. It does not necessarily imply any acceptance of a sphere 
of truth, however small ; its business rather is to challenge 
finality in every shape. For scepticism, any acceptance of 
positive truth can at best be no more than provisional. It is in 
principle quite prepared to accept intellectual chaos, if its pro- 
cedure should issue in such a result. 

Similarly it is inaccurate to identify scepticism with mental 
hesitation, misgiving, or incapacity to make up our minds. If this 
were the case every intelligence would be essentially sceptical, 
for no truth of any kind can be definitely arrived at without our 
passing through one or other of these states. If any mind 
remains permanently in any of these states, this is of purely 
biographical interest, and may be due to intellectual or even 
moral defects. To confuse such a frame of mind with a 
sceptical attitude, is much the same as to refute a scientific 
doctrine by asserting our incompetence to understand it. 
Scepticism is a special attitude which men are prepared to defend 
by conscious use of ideas and argument. 


Scepticism may be directed upon any aspect of our knowledge. 
In one of its forms it is concerned more especially with the 
knowledge we have through perception. In another it deals with 
ideas in general. It may consider the connections between ideas, 
or again, the value of the reference to reality which ideas in 
certain cases claim to make. It may also turn its attention to 
scientific truth, or to philosophical truth, to knowledge of finite 
objects, or to knowledge of ultimate reality. In all these cases 
we have the same essential features, and these are that scepticism 


is directed solely against knowledge, and that it is concerned to 
show that the human intellect cannot claim to go beyond 
psychic states of consciousness, or cannot express through them 
the actual nature of objects in relation to which the mind stands. 

It is a significant fact that scepticism does not concern itself 
with emotional forms of experience, no matter how elaborate, nor 
even with instincts however complex. Only in so far as emotional 
life professes to use or to be based on knowledge has it been 
challenged by sceptical criticism. Thus the finely developed 
sceptical mind of Hume maintained that any one who proceeded 
sceptically against moral distinctions was a " disingenuous dis- 
putant." In religious experience, similarly, scepticism was, in his 
view, irrelevant except in so far as religion used demonstration to 
find or defend its beliefs, i.e. fell back on knowledge instead of 
keeping within its proper realm of religious emotion or religious 
faith. It is only when we deal with intellectual processes that 
scepticism can appear ; action or emotion are beyond its reach 
or interest. 

It is not at first sight very obvious why this should be the case. 
On the contrary, the transparent uncertainty and irregularity, the 
varieties and the mutability of the facts in morality and religion, 
would seem to render them a peculiarly congenial topic for 
sceptical analysis. The explanation, however, is found when we 
note that only when the claim is made by the human mind 
to reveal in its own processes the nature of objects outside the 
ambit of its own being, or of its states at the moment they are 
experienced, does any call for question arise. Within the mind, 
consciousness is its own first and last evidence ; its states simply 
are ; and their value lies in themselves. The claim to transcend 
mental states by conveying within their process the objective 
content of what lies outside them is openly made by knowledge. 
This claim scepticism challenges, in whatever form the claim 
may be made. 

In all forms of scepticism the actuality of the mental state is 
never called in question. Without the existence of such a state, 
even scepticism could not arise. But, in knowledge, the peculiarity 
of the mental process is that it is at once an operation of mental 
life and a vehicle of communication regarding the nature of 


an extra-mental reality. The mind claims not merely to give 
such information, but to be certain of what it communicates. 
That is to say, the truth is not only about an object, but affects 
the very character of the mental state in and through which 
consciousness exists ; for to be certain is to be in a specific state 
of mind. It is because of this assumed dualism in the attitude of 
knowledge that scepticism joins issue with its claims. Scepticism 
always postulates a radical discontinuity between the mind and its 
world, and generally in the form of a crude dualism of mind- 
substance and a thing-substance. The ultimate purpose of 
scepticism is to dispute the capacity of mind at once to maintain 
the incongruity or discontinuity between its own nature and that 
of its object, and also to convey with certainty to itself what the 
object is. The procedure of scepticism consists essentially in 
pitting these two factors in the cognitive situation against one 
another, and proving, so to say, out of the mouth of knowledge 
itself, the impossibility of its own claims. On the face of it the 
challenge seems justified, and scepticism seems on this view 
to lie in the very heart of the problem of knowledge. For if 
there were a radical discontinuity between the mind and its 
world of objects, and if, in spite of this, the mind claimed by 
knowledge to find the very nature of the object in and through 
mental processes, then, certainly, one or other of these positions 
would have to be abandoned in the interests of consistency ; 
for the retention of both would be exposed to the charge of 
mental incoherence which it is the pleasure of scepticism to 

The simplest and easiest form of scepticism is that which seeks 
to show that in the region of perception the mind has no 
assurance of being conscious of the actual objective nature of the 
real which is perceived. Since our knowing is assumed not to 
affect the object known, the object should always reveal the same 
nature if known properly. It should, therefore, always mean the 
same to the same mind, and mean the same to different minds 
similarly constituted. In other words, the knowledge possessed 
in perception, whatever else it may be, must have the character of 
universality, if it is to express the nature of the objects outside 
the mind. The aim of scepticism is to show that such universality 


is not and cannot be found by perception. The way to the nature 
of the object as independent is barred from the start by the simple 
fact that we do use special instruments (i.e. different special 
senses) to get en rapport with the object. These cannot bring 
out the peculiar nature of the object if they are special to our 
minds. Unless they are really instruments of our own minds, the 
mind could not go out to meet an object outside itself; and it 
could not have knowledge of its own if the instruments were not 
its own functions. Any way and every way we care to proceed 
in such a case, we remain cut off from the independent object. 
This is not so much proved as confirmed by the experience, which 
we constantly have, of being misled in our perceptions, of the 
real divergence between our own perceptions and those of other 
human beings, and still more those of other animals. The 
dissipation of the claim put forward by perception to convey 
truth (i.e. a universal meaning) regarding the object perceived, 
thus either reduces perception to silence, or else strips its know- 
ledge of all the qualitative content in which it professedly consists 
(colours, etc.). 1 Perception is forced to limit itself merely to hinting 
that some object is present to the mind, a hint conveyed, say, by 
the mute act of pointing out with the finger ; and this merely 
amounts to reaffirming the abstract assumption underlying all 
knowledge that the mind is face to face with an external object. 
When we turn from perception to the process of ideas, a 
similar result is reached by scepticism. Our ideas are in fact 
states of our own mind, whatever their qualitative differences and 
operations may be. The object to which they claim to refer 
exists apart from and independent of them, and has a nature of 
its own. Our ideas certainly have the characteristic feature of 
generality ; they have a kind of permanence and they can and do 
recur in our minds. The object, too, remains the same in itself. 
So far it would seem that ideas might be able to convey the 
nature of the objects. But this similarity is of no avail. For if 
our ideas of the object are such as to express with complete 
accuracy the nature of the object, then we abandon the primary 
assumption of knowledge, viz. that the object is really different 
in its existence, in its nature, from the mind which also has a 
1 Both these alternatives were adopted by the later Greek sceptic^, 



peculiar existence and nature of its own. If, on the other hand, 
we keep to this essential difference in nature between mind and 
object, and their consequent existential independence, the process 
of ideas cannot give us the nature of the object with literal exact- 
ness. The mind can only tell us in its own terms how it reacts 
upon and in relation to our object, which remains from first to 
last discontinuous with it. This is, in fact, almost more evident in 
the case of ideas than it is in the case of perception. For ideas 
grow in the mind, they imply memory and a certain amount of 
imagination. From these conditions they are inseparable ; yet no 
one would ever dream of regarding such factors as constitutive of 
an external object, or indeed of any object really discontinuous 
with the nature of mind. We cannot detach ideas from the 
mental life of which they are mere functions ; and even if we 
could, we cannot suppose that a detached element of mental life 
can possibly express the whole nature of the object which is 
independent of mind. If the whole mind cannot convey the 
peculiar character of the object, it is less than likely that a frag- 
ment of it can. 

The difficulties into which the process of ideas leads us when 
we attempt to regard them as adequate to the nature of the 
object, illustrate and confirm the fundamental incongruity referred 
to. Thus ideas, scepticism notes, have the quality of generality. 
But no generality can exactly express or convey to our minds the 
actual individual object, which we assume from the first we are 
dealing with. The individual object has a punctual singleness of 
being that cuts it off not merely from the individual mind, but 
from all other objects, no matter how like it they may be, and no 
matter how much it shows with them an identity of structure. 
Indeed, the more the generality holds good, the more necessary it 
is to insist on some quite special difference in the object, in order 
to retain its individual independence of being from which know- 
ledge starts. It is not simply (as is so often held) that this 
factor, which gives the individual object atomic singleness, defies 
all generalisation. The point rather is that the mind instinctively 
declines to generalise it, refuses to sacrifice its claim to be as 
much an integral element in the constitution of the real nature of 
the object as the element of generality on which ideas profess to 


lay hold. And it is fairly evident why this instinct should be so 
strong and persistent. The mind itself is an individual reality ; 
and if it gave up its own element of distinction from other real 
beings, its own reality would disappear and with that the whole 
problem of knowledge. If there were no discernible difference 
between itself and its object, knowledge would never arise ; the 
" identity of indiscernibles " in this as in other cases would make 
the process of knowledge unnecessary. The mind therefore 
clings to this ineradicable factor in individual things that keeps 
them apart despite all the powers of generalisation, and clings to 
it not merely in the interest of the individuality of objects but in 
its own interest. Rather than give it up the mind will surrender 
the claim of ideas to be fully adequate to the real nature of 
objects. Even though the factor in question be whittled away 
till it is little more than the unknowable, a surd, a " form- 
less matter " or the like ; and even though all the knowledge we 
have of objects may be admitted to come to us by way of ideas, 
still, the total abandonment of that unintelligible remainder is felt 
to be impossible as long as mind and objects are to maintain 
their independent reality. Rather than admit that ideas do 
wholly express the individual being of objects, the mind is pre- 
pared even to allow that the real is not completely intelligible at 
all. So impossible is it for the mind to abandon its initial 
assumption of the discontinuity between its own reality and that 
of objects independent of itself. 

That this is not a mere prejudice of unsophisticated minds or 
of naive thinkers, is evident from the makeshifts instinctively 
adopted by philosophers to meet the difficulty involved in using 
ideas as the adequate expression of the real nature of objects. 
Two such methods may be noted in passing. Admitting that 
ideas may give general aspects of the individual object, and that 
its particular separate existence is not thus accounted for, one 
solution of the difficulty is found by calling in the help of another 
function of mind to deal with the element that escapes the grasp 
of ideas. This function is sometimes perception, sometimes 
sensation, sometimes feeling, or even intuition. In this way 
the mind is supposed to establish a happy union with the whole 
of the individual object ; for what will not prove amenable to the 


persuasion of general ideas must yield to the force majeure of 
immediate and complete possession. The chief point of interest 
here is the indirect admission that ideas are not of themselves 
adequate to give us the real nature of the object : otherwise why 
supplement their process by that of perception or sensation ? 

Even with this addition, however, the sceptical criticism is 
not turned aside. For if the sceptical objections to the process 
of perception and of ideas hold good when each is considered 
separately, they do not disappear because both are taken together 
in one and the same operation of knowing the object. On the 
contrary, we have added to the difficulties, which each has to face, 
the further difficulty -of showing that the relation between per- 
ceiving and the process of ideas, which are mental functions, is 
one which exactly reveals the whole nature of the object as an 
independent reality. Whether we say with some philosophers 
that perception and ideas are stages in the growth of mental life, 
or, with others, that perception gives the fact which ideas work 
up into a form which is general, in either case we cannot suppose 
that the object is both independent and self-contained throughout 
the process of knowledge, and yet goes through stages dictated 
only by the exigencies of our mind in its endeavour to know the 
independent object. We may maintain that this complicated 
process of knowledge is essential if our mind is to be an in- 
dependent reality when dealing with its object; and we may 
maintain that the object must remain independent and the same 
in its separate reality, if we are to know it at all. But we cannot 
at once make the nature and process of the one in any sense 
dependent or contingent upon those of the other, and also insist 
on their discontinuous existence. 

A second method of meeting the situation created by the 
inadequacy of general ideas to convey the whole nature of the 
individual object, is adopted by those who are prepared to take 
seriously the view that ideas, and ideas alone, give us the entree 
into the nature of the object. To apprehend the singleness of 
the object, it is insisted, we do not require to make use of per- 
ception or any of the additional operations of the mind, for the 
object is but the " meeting place " of universals, the system of 
ideas focussed in a special way at a particular centre of reality. 


The individual is such a system or arrangement, and in this 
closed system lies its singleness. Even perceived facts can 
be no more than a concentration of ideas related in a special 
way, if they are to be known. 

This insistence on the connection of ideas in order to do 
justice to the' individual nature of the object, seems at first to 
satisfy the need for grasping the singleness of the object without 
sacrificing the principle that only through ideas is the object 
revealed. But here, too, scepticism arrests conviction. For either 
this system, or unified arrangement, in which the singleness 
consists, is another idea or it is not. If it is another idea, 
different doubtless from the variety of ideas into which the 
object is resolved, then it too has the quality of generality which 
scepticism maintains cannot give the precise singleness of the 
object as an independent reality. If it is not an idea, then ideas 
once again are admitted to be an inaccurate expression of the 
nature of the real. 

This failure of ideas to give us the object as it is in its 
independent existence, which scepticism holds to be inevitable, 
is thus confirmed even by the procedure of these philosophers 
who seek to approach the real by exercising this function of the 
mind. Whether we take ideas in the narrow sense as merely 
mental generalisations produced consciously or unconsciously in 
the mind, or use this term to cover both such quasi-psychological 
products and the conceptions or notions (a priori or otherwise) 
which specialise the function of unity in which the intellect 
consists, in either case the result, so far as scepticism is con- 
cerned, is the same. By that way the object is not and cannot 
be reached, if the object is, as we assume in knowledge it is, 
discontinuous with and independent of the mind : and the know- 
ledge which claims by that means to convey the true nature of 
such real objects is doubtful at the best, abortive at the worst. 

The success of scepticism in dealing with perception and the 
process of ideas as separate avenues to the knowledge of the real 
nature of the object, is not lessened when it turns its attention 
to the comparison of the deliverances which these commonly 
accepted forms of knowledge severally give regarding reality. 
Perception left to itself shows us a world of objects with tangible, 


visible, audible qualities ; and with these we endow objects or 
find objects endowed. It is thus we derive all the joy in the 
refulgent glory of colour, in the entrancing beauty of sound, the 
charm of spatially embodied form. All these we ascribe to 
the world " revealed " to our senses. The same realm of 
objects when submitted to the analysis of ideas alone 
freely manipulated, untrammelled by the aid of the senses, 
following their own course, obeying their own laws becomes so 
utterly and completely transformed as to leave not merely no 
likeness to what perception furnishes, but frankly opposed to all 
that it reveals. To the mind that works on the plane of ideas, 
e.g. to the physical scientist, the final substance of the physical 
world (i.e. its real nature) is impalpable, imponderable, invisible, 
inaudible ; the articulated manifold forms of objects are but 
combinations and arrangements of this primordial stuff, with no 
difference between them but those of quantity and position. The 
ultimate constituent of all things of mind itself as well as 
objects is a uniform continuum as devoid of qualities as pure 
space. All the transcendent glory of a summer day, when its 
true nature stands revealed in the medium of ideas, melts away 
into the homogeneous fluid which finally holds all reality in 

It is transparent that the world of sense is thus unrecognisable 
when translated into the language of ideas ; and the world as it 
is for ideas gives no stable existence to the realm of sense. 
Each, if taken as true, is not only not justified by the other ; 
each is illusion to the other. 1 

Not only does the scheme of thought developed in physical 
science dissipate the world of sense into insubstantial illusion 
and thus dissolve into nothingness the palatial glories of art, 
which draws all its material from the region of sense, but the 
thought schemes of the different sciences when dealing with the 
same object lead to divergent and even contradictory results. 
In this connection reference need only be made to the perennial 

1 No one has brought out this contrast with greater felicity and impressiveness 
than Mr. Balfonr in his Foundations of Belief. The same point, it need hardly be 
said, was made long ago by Hume in a somewhat different way. 


controversies regarding the essential nature of organic exist- 
ence, which seem no nearer a conclusion now than ever they 

The radical disagreements between the deliverance of per- 
ception and that of ideas, and again between different trains of 
ideas concerning the same finite objects, support the contention 
of sceptical criticism that, in the process of knowing, the mind 
does not and cannot give the nature of the object as it is in its 
independent existence. The road to finality or certainty in 
cognitive activity is blocked by the initial discontinuity between 
mind and its object. Yet unless such certainty be secured, 
knowledge has failed in its purpose. 

Scepticism has a still easier task in showing that the case of 
knowledge is the very worst when the mind attempts to deal not 
with finite objects, but with the whole realm of finitude, with 
absolute reality, with God, or with such a transcendent form of 
existence as that of an immortal individual. For here the dis- 
continuity between the human mind and its object is so immense 
that the mind seems to scepticism to lack the equipment even to 
begin the process of knowledge ; nothing but contradiction seems 
the reward of its efforts. A universal truth regarding the whole 
universe of reality would not be a truth for the human mind nor 
intelligible in terms of the human intellect. If it were intelligible 
to us who are parts of the world, to that extent it would not hold 
of the universe in its totality, or for a mind grasping the universe 
en bloc, so to say. Similarly, regarding immortal existence : the 
demand to know this object merely shows the need for another 
mind than ours. 


Such, then, is the procedure and outcome of scepticism. It 
will be seen that throughout it is not aimless, and not in principle 
hostile to the demands of the mind for knowledge. Were it 
either of these, it would be frivolous. It would have its source in 
the character of the sceptic instead of in the nature of the intellect ; 
and its procedure would then not be, as it claims to be, logical 
and detached from personal interests. It would be haphazard and 


temperamental. 1 Its aim is serious, and consists in an unwaver- 
ing attempt to find whether the claim which the mind makes to 
convey through knowledge the permanent and universal nature 
of the object, is strictly tenable. In the arraignment of know- 
ledge at the bar of experience, to which knowledge must always 
come for the title deeds of truth, scepticism states the case for 
the object against the claims of the mind. Scepticism never 
rises till knowledge has appeared. In that sense it is not a way 
to knowledge. At the same time its intention and purpose 
imply a strong consciousness of the importance of the issue at 
stake, and often reveal a deeper appreciation of the significance 
of knowledge than is sometimes shown by science or constructive 
philosophy. Science is jealous of error ; scepticism is jealous, at 
times even envious, of the truth. In order to carry out its 
purpose it is bound to take an opposite course, and to emphasise 
an opposite factor in the cognitive situation, from that in which 
knowledge takes primary interest. Knowledge is absorbed in 
the desire to achieve universality : that is the terminus ad quern 
of its activity. Its tendency is in consequence to overlook the 
equally essential factor of the particular, the unique singleness of 
individual existence. Scepticism takes its stand on this element 
and insists on its supreme importance. It assumes from the 
start an attitude of complete distrust of universals. It never 
questions the reality or the value of single states of mind, single 
states of being, whether in the mind or in the object. Hence it 
is that scepticism always takes the form of emphasising the 
psychological process as distinct from the expansion of the mind 
beyond its passing states ; of insisting on the finality of individual 
atomic " elements," instead of general connections ; of favouring 
absolute discreteness at the expense of continuity ; of delighting 
in disintegration instead of coherence or construction. Such a 
position is inevitable on its own terms : for the vitalising force of 
its activity is its intense consciousness that the particular is the 
ineradicable element in knowledge and reality. This is its 

1 There is doubtless such a frame of mind, and it is often called scepticism. It 
i , however, a mere mood, the mood of mental despair, or, again, that of the 
intellectual gamin, whose only use for the intellect is to enable him to be impertinent. 


starting point, its main interest, and naturally, therefore, its final 

Without such a definite and unquestioned basis, it is evident 
that scepticism would not so much fail to carry out its attack on 
knowledge ; it would have no raison d'etre at all. It could at 
best be no more than a non-rational and quasi-pathological 
condition of the intellect, and would be merely of biographical 
significance. It is, however, an intellectual attitude, persistently 
pursued according to intellectual conditions, and capable of 
making itself understood and intelligible to the non-sceptical. 
It must therefore have its roots in the nature of intellectual 
activity, and not in the caprice or character of a chance individual's 
mind. Only so could we account for the assurance with which 
the sceptical critic carries forward the course of his arguments, or 
the conviction which he seems able to infuse in the minds of 
those whom he addresses. Since it is against the universal 
element in knowledge that sceptical criticism is directed, there 
is only one factor left which will provide the sceptical critic with 
the foothold he requires to carry on his intellectual activity. 
That factor is the element of insular singleness with which the 
intellect has somehow to deal, and which has at least the 
advantage of being more certain to the mind, and therefore 
the less assailable element in the cognitive situation ; for without 
this element knowledge, which seeks to go beyond it, could not 
begin at all. Scepticism is thus a critical examination of acquired 
knowledge on the basis of the particularity which characterises 
every object of knowledge. From this point of view we can see 
that it is not merely a justifiable, but an inevitable type of 
investigation ; and, indeed, indispensable in the interests of the 
highest demands of knowledge. It is not surprising, therefore, 
that it has constantly recurred in the history of philosophy, and 
is still irrepressible. 


One may fairly ask, however, why should such an assault be 
made against acquired knowledge ? Why does not scepticism 
break out in other spheres of experience, as well as knowledge ? 


Why should the atra cura of scepticism always ride behind the 
knights of the intellect ? 

It is perhaps neither fanciful nor unfruitful to suggest that we 
have in scepticism a special case of an attitude of mind, which 
seems quite general throughout all the purposive activity of 
man's life. In man's desire to achieve his purpose he finds 
himself always opposed by an element in his nature which has to 
be controlled and regulated, which by itself seems to resist his 
striving towards his ends, and which at times seems able to take 
its stand in open rebellion against all constraint. Restraint 
indeed, seems from this side of our nature merely external. 
Without this factor there would be no striving to an end at all. 
But, if accepted, justice must be done to it : and the time comes 
when it stands forth and claims to be recognised, claims even to 
question the laws of restraint imposed upon it, and demands 
satisfaction on its own terms. Thus, in moral experience we have 
the self of self-will, of private feeling and interest, which has to 
be directed towards higher ends, has to be reckoned with in the 
moral struggle, and somehow must be satisfied. It may break 
out on its own account and seek to use all possible strength in 
the maintenance of its isolation, and then it becomes the evil will 
pure and simple, which involves the destruction and negation of 
the will towards the good. This is the worst manifestation of the 
element of the private or atomic will. But it has always to assert 
itself in some form, for it is an essential aspect of personality ; and 
no universal good can be really a good which ignores or crushes 
the interest of the particular individual. There can be no doubt 
that the tendency of moral purposes is to suppress that interest, 
simply because moral purposes, the higher they are, lay so much 
stress on the universal elements in the good. As against this 
tendency individual self-regard can make and always will make 
a fight and a justifiable protest, even though the struggle takes 
the form of defying, for the time being, the universal standard 
set up. And in principle it is not without justification. For the 
endeavour to attain the good is an effort to secure not simply " a 
good on the whole," but a good of the whole personality with all 
its specific interests and aims. A good achieved which is not my 
good in particular is not in the long run a real good. An ultimate 


good of personality must be one in which self-love is satisfied as 
well as one which finds its consummation in the love of others. 
True self-love is as sound a test of a moral life as balanced 

Similarly in the case of the religious life. The surrender of 
the finite will to the Supreme, the devoted abandonment of the 
finite soul to God, is only possible because of the initial contrast 
of the individual spirit to the Highest, and is only worth while if 
in the experience of its union it attains the peace of soul which 
enables it to confront all finitude in perfect confidence that its 
purposes as a whole are secure. That contrast, however, while 
it is the source of the experience, is the standing peril to its 
realisation. For the abandonment in question must be free and 
spontaneous onj the part of the individual, if the result is to 
satisfy his own soul in particular and bring out fully the unique 
source of security which is his alone when " in losing himself 
he really finds himself." But a spontaneous attitude of the 
individual implies that he can also refuse to take the step, that 
he can demand satisfaction on his own terms, that he may even 
rebel against the Reality which can bring him to his peace. 
He may decline peace on certain terms, or on any terms. When 
the individual takes up this attitude, especially in its extreme 
form, we have the " rebellion against God," which is the essence 
of the "sinful nature." But the insistence on the individual 
requirements of the finite soul and the demand that these should 
be satisfactorily met, form an essential condition not merely of 
all religious sincerity but of all progress in the religious life. 

We have a closely analogous situation in the case of the 
pursuit of the beautiful and the harmonious in art. For here, 
too, unless the particular element receives its due, the result is 
not artistically satisfying ; if the part claims to stand out on its 
own account it becomes the ugly, the discordant, the chaotic, the 
capricious. If, for example, in the dramatic situation there is no 
free play for the. individual wills, the necessity, which a drama 
should unfold and reveal, becomes a brute fate undistinguishable 
from the crude inevitableness of events in nature. That is why 
the ruin produced by an earthquake is not a tragedy but a 
catastrophe ; and that explains why the mere operation of human 


wills regardless of any ultimate plan constitutes neither tragedy 
nor comedy, but simply history. 

Reflection on these different forms of purposive activity 
throws an interesting light on the peculiar phenomenon of 
scepticism in the case of knowledge. Looked at from this point 
of view, scepticism may be said to have its source in an out- 
spoken deliberate revolt against the enchainment of the in- 
dividual intellect by the forms and conditions of universality, 
which regulate its function so as to secure the order demanded 
by knowledge } and which restrain its freedom to manipulate its 
isolated ideas at its own pleasure. The revolt generally takes 
the direction of a thoroughgoing criticism of the claim to 
universality made by knowledge, and an examination of know- 
ledge to see if it really does do justice to the particular unique- 
ness of individual objects, which is so indispensable a factor in 
their constitution and regarding which consciousness has never 
any doubt at all. When scepticism assumes this form it is a 
serious philosophical attitude of great historical significance. 
If, however, as sometimes happens, it adopts the Mephistophelian 
position of unqualified and wholesale denial, for the sheer delight 
in rejecting all the professed universal conclusions of science 
and ordinary knowledge, then it is the spirit of intellectual 
revolt for the sake of revolt, it is the principle of intellectual 
anarchy pure and simple. This it may very well become ; for the 
joy in destruction is to some intellects quite as keen as the joy 
in construction is to others ; and the joy in either case is obtained 
if the issue is successful. 1 But it cannot be anarchical and at the 
same time claim the support of intelligence, any more than 
anarchy in morality can be consistently adopted in the name of 
a moral standard. Intelligence cannot dethrone itself. And 
scepticism generally makes its appeal to intelligent understand- 
ing, because it accepts at least one condition of intellectual 
procedure that of the impossibility of holding positions that are 
mutually and finally contradictory and also because, as we have 
seen, it starts from an assured consciousness of the particular. 
Without the first it could not be a thinking process at all. It 

1 Hence, it is inaccurate to suppose that complete scepticism necessarily creates 
the emotion of despair. 


could gain no victory over knowledge, for a contest implies some 
common ground, however slight, between the combatants ; and 
its interest in the criticism of knowledge would be gone if its 
result could not be accepted by the defeated opponent. With- 
out the second, again, it would have nothing definite to start from. 
The only factors in the cognitive situation are these twin aspects 
of the real, its universal element and its particular uniqueness. 
Scepticism contests the nature of the former, and has therefore 
to start assured of the latter. 

That scepticism, however, can within these limits raise a 
revolt against knowledge, is undoubted. It has its source in a 
kind of instinctive protest which the mind makes against the 
restraints with which the universalismg tendency of the intellect 
imposes on the unconstrained flow of mental life. The very 
necessity with which the intellect insists that ideas must go this 
way and not that, that things must have this meaning and not 
that, is felt at times, even by the trained mind, to be irritating, 
oppressive and wearisome. The more abstract thinking is, 
the more does it tend to treat with chilling indifference the 
glowing life which animates the crudest particular facts, giving 
intensity of interest to the stream of consciousness. With 
increased abstractness the authority of the universal element 
becomes more exigent and is felt to be more external ; in short, 
it becomes the ruthless gaoler of spontaneous discrete mental 
occurrences, instead of their freely adopted guide and director. 
It is when this state of slumbering mutiny breaks out into open 
opposition that the attitude of scepticism is created. It directly 
and frankly challenges the claim to "universality and necessity " 
put forward by the knowledge embodied in science and dogmatic 
philosophical thinking. The critical examination and rejection 
of the claim constitutes theoretical scepticism, whatever be the 
precise historical form it assumes. The frame of mind from 
which it arises, however, is not peculiar to sceptics, but is 
experienced by most intelligent individuals at some time or 
other in their intellectual life. 

Thus the sources of scepticism in knowledge lie near to 
those of the allied attitudes in the moral and religious life 
referred to above. It is interesting in this way to find that 


scepticism is not an eccentric or isolated condition of mind, 
but a specific form of a more general attitude of the human spirit 
towards its higher ends. There can be little doubt that the 
process of moulding the individual will to social issues, which 
constitutes the moralisation of human nature, reacts profoundly 
on the whole structure and composition of the mind ; and may 
readily suggest and even encourage an attitude in his intellectual 
life which in all essentials resembles the opposition of his 
individual will to the social system. Historically we find a close 
connection between the two forms of revolt. Sometimes scepticism 
accompanies a social upheaval, sometimes the one follows upon 
the other. Or, again, we find that the dormant instinct of 
resistance to the restraints of universal conditions may be 
satisfied by breaking out in the sphere of the intellect alone, 
and may leave the social order with full control over the 
individual will, as if, so to say, an attack upon knowledge were 
a sufficient outlet for the latent instinct of opposition to con- 
straint which lies in the individual. The moral life in such a 
case is left untouched, and may even be considered to be 
beyond the reach of scepticism. 1 Morality and practice generally 
are accepted as a secure retreat for the mind from the 
bewilderment and confusion which are the final outcome of the 
criticism of knowledge. Total scepticism thus cannot lead to 
total spiritual ruin, so long as the stronghold of the moral life 
endures. Scepticism may be complete and may leave no 
positive intellectual basis at all ; and yet this one domain 
of experience can supply the mind with a sufficient area of 
certainty in which to be at peace, despite confusion elsewhere. 
In the same way, the overthrow of the claims of knowledge 
often leaves the religious mind unmoved, and may even be 
brought about in the interests of religion. The religious attitude 
in that case supplies the individual with ample security for his 
mental life, a security which may indeed more than compensate 
him for the loss of all the certainty offered by knowledge. 2 

1 This was Hume's position. 

* In this connection we may recall the position of Pascal, and in more recent 
times that of Mr. Balfour, whose critical attack on knowledge is treated as " an 
introduction to the study of theology." 



An attitude which has its roots so deep in the instincts of the 
human mind is not one that can be regarded as irrelevant or 
transitional in the history of thought. There seems no reason to 
suppose that scepticism will ever disappear from philosophy, or 
indeed can ever be dispensed with. The particular form it may 
assume will vary from time to time according to the historical 
circumstances in which it arises, and the kind of positive knowledge 
against which its criticism is directed. This variation is in- 
evitable. The nature of the " uniqueness " or " singleness " of 
the individual object or fact, in which scepticism finds the positive 
starting point for its criticism, is not one which always has the 
same meaning, and is not one regarding which all sceptics are 
agreed. They are content rather to take the point as common- 
sense and the requirements of the argument dictate ; and 
common-sense has no uniformity of view on the matter. Further, 
it is evident that the kind of knowledge against which the 
sceptic concentrates his attack must vary with the history of 
science and philosophy ; for the positive statements of science 
and philosophy supply the material on which the sceptic directs 
his analysis of knowledge, and these statements alter with the 
progress of knowledge. 

But however much the form assumed by scepticism may 
change, its principle and its purpose remain the same, and 
will inevitably give rise to the demand for sceptical criticism 
from time to time. Nor is this deplorable. There must always 
be some intellects which find satisfaction in giving good reasons 
for the spirit of denial. There is no doubt, too, that science and 
much philosophy tend to become more and more dogmatic when 
even comparative success attends their efforts ; and positive 
dogmatism easily becomes a fetish or a pretence of knowledge, if 
the ambitions of the intellect are left unchallenged. Scepticism, 
on the other hand, always introduces the freshness ot free 
individual life into the museum of desiccated " universal and 
necessary conceptions." If scepticism is the evil genius of 
philosophy, it at least brings the qualities and advantages of 
genius to further the enduring purpose of philosophical reflection. 


The Mephistophelean spirit of scepticism is often the only means 
of bringing the self-complacency of the intellect to a sense of 
reality. Metaphysics will always be required as long as man 
seeks to rise to the greatness of his intellect ; but he will not 
escape the discipline of intellectual humility as long as scepticism 
is ever ready to restore the balance by showing him how little his 
intellect can accomplish. 

It seems a mistake, then, in principle to suppose that the 
first business of philosophy is to lay the spirit of scepticism. 
Doubtless scepticism, as Kant said, " cannot be an abiding 
dwelling-place for the human intellect." But the history of 
philosophy seems to give sufficient evidence for asserting that the 
human intellect has found no continuing city in any system that 
has yet been propounded. I ndeed, if philosophy is an aspect of life 
it must retain its vitality even at the price of constant change of 
point of view : for a " permanent resting-place " for philosophy, as 
for all life, will prove to be a tomb. To get rid of scepticism 
altogether various expedients are from time to time adopted. 
Some philosophers take refuge in intuition, or instinct, or feeling, 
which, by their very inarticulateness and the absence of conceptual 
universality, seem to escape the assaults of scepticism and to take 
advantage of the elements in which scepticism itself finds its 
positive basis and the assurance of its own procedure. But this 
is, in fact, such a complete admission of the success of sceptical 
criticism, when directed on the universal element in knowledge, 
that it amounts to absolute surrender to scepticism in advance : 
a result which, indeed, is brought out clearly by the critical 
attitude which those philosophers take up to the claims of con- 
ceptual thinking. 1 Perhaps, however, the most desperate 
expedient of all is that adopted by Hegel, who seeks to overcome 
the efforts of scepticism to undermine the citadel of knowledge, 
by incorporating scepticism itself into the absolute system of 
truth. It is possible, doubtless, in some cases to appease an 
enemy by granting him hospitality or by giving the invader a 
share of the territory assailed. But when the enemy's purpose is 
to lay waste utterly and without restraint, such conciliatory 
generosity may be no better than treacherous betrayal, and may 

1 Cp, Bergson's suggestion of "other intellectual concepts than ours." 


prove as disastrous as annihilation. It seems plainly impossible 
to meet the demands of scepticism by a grant of knowledge, 
when its aim is to show that all such grants are valueless and with- 
out substantial security. It is a misunderstanding of scepticism 
to try to satisfy it with knowledge of a certain kind when it 
questions the assumption that the claims of any kind of know- 
ledge, more especially "absolute knowledge," can be justified. 
Scepticism does not seek to increase positive knowledge, but 
to examine critically the knowledge offered by the intellect. 
Scepticism is certainly a philosophical attitude, but it makes 
no pretensions to supply a positive or dogmatic contribution 
to philosophy. That would clearly be a self-contradiction ; 
and scepticism is acutely alive to contradiction. To suppose 
as Hegel does, 1 that scepticism cannot be turned against 
philosophy without being either unphilosophical or dogmatic 
in its turn, is to assume that philosophy must be always in 
essence dogmatic or positive an assumption which is not true 
historically, and which in any case scepticism is bound to call in 
question. Hegel's interpretation of scepticism is, in fact, adapted 
to his purpose of placing all philosophical views within the 
perspective of his own system. Scepticism becomes merely the 
" negative side " of absolute or rational knowledge, which is a 
process of making specific dogmatic truths run fluid, of breaking 
down their fixity and separation by the instrument of contradiction. 
Since reason contains all relations and opposites within itself, and 
has in itself no opposite (being all embracing and self-contained), 
scepticism thus must either take its place as a special operation 
of reason or become a mere mental peculiarity, a psychological 
phenomenon of some individual. Such an interpretation, however, 
obviously confuses the method of scepticism with its purpose. 
Scepticism, like all philosophy, avails itself of the principle that 
the intellect cannot admit contradictions ; for the intellect cannot 
proceed in logical form without this condition, whether in 
scepticism or in science or in philosophy. But the purpose of 
scepticism is, as we have seen, very different from the mere 
application of this elementary principle ; and part of its purpose 
is precisely to call in question the claim that reason is an all- 

1 Hegel, Vvtnischtc Schriften> I. 



sufficient avenue to the nature of reality. So far is a sell-closed 
system of absolute truth from being impervious to the assaults of 
scepticism, that such a system puts less strain on the resources 
of sceptical strategy than almost any other philosophy. It would, 
indeed, appear that the serried ranks of the categories moving in 
close formation to the capture of the kingdoms of this world and 
the next, offer the easiest of all targets to the enfilading batteries 
of scepticism. For a system which professedly requires negation 
as the very principle and life of its movement is not one that can 
ever claim to be complete at all. Nor, in fact, is the system ever 
completed either in its parts or in its totality. Its essence is 
admittedly restless movement from a " first " to a " last," and 
again from " last " to " first/ 1 But a cycle which from the start is 
confessedly " closed/ 1 makes impossible either a real beginning 
or a real ending. In short, an absolute system which claims to 
carry scepticism within its heart, is in reality under the control of 
scepticism throughout its entire scope. Scepticism may even 
with characteristic irony claim such a system for its own, and 
Phoenix-like rise triumphant from its ashes. 


" There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth." S. BUTLER. 


IF recent discussions have done nothing more than to compel 
a reconsideration of the nature of the philosophic attitude to 
experience, and to press for some statement of its object and 
method, they will have been of real service. It is impossible, 
however, to attempt answers to these questions unless we keep 
in view what philosophy has done in the past, and unless we 
admit its connection with the texture of human experience, in 
much the same way that science and art take their place there, 
because somehow they are woven out of the substance of human 
life. If we ask for philosophy out of the clouds, we must not be 
surprised if we are given merely vapour. 

Nothing seems plainer on a survey of the facts than that 
philosophy is a serious mental concern of a very small number of 
human individuals. There may be many who at intervals have 
an incidental interest in subjects to which the philosopher gives 
his whole mind. But such transitory interest is not philosophy. 
any more than stonebreaking is sculpture, or gossip history. 
The vast hordes of mankind who cross the fields of space and 
time allotted to humanity .know nothing of philosophy, care 
nothing for its problems, and have not the slightest desire for 
its solutions. Races of men rise and pass on, whose ideas never 
go beyond the degree of generality that is required to link one 
day with the next, and are composed to their inmost fibre of 
the material drawn from immediate sensuous experience. For 
the majority, the barren hours of abundant leisure are not even 



occupied with those dreamy imaginings of the unseen which for 
a small minority sometimes act as a substitute for the meditations 
of the philosopher. 

The very language of vast masses of mankind makes continuous 
conceptual thinking impossible, and the communication to them 
of philosophical ideas from another nation an insuperable task. 
With the utmost industry and ingenuity at his disposal, it may 
be safely said that no one could succeed in translating the reflec- 
tions of the Critique of Pure Reason into the language of the 
Fiji Islanders, even if benevolent enthusiasm should make any 
one think the undertaking desirable. With the complacent 
self-centredness characteristic of European civilisation, we divide 
mankind into East and West, and maintain that the philosophical 
spirit has found no dwelling-place east of the Grecian Archipelago. 

We do not so readily draw the inference that philosophy is 
thus historically shown to be a peculiar outcrop of a specific type 
of mind inhabiting a particular geographical area of the globe, 
and that the critical temperament which cherishes philosophical 
discussion is incompatible with the mental attitude of mankind 
in other regions of the Earth. We may go further, and say that 
in a matter of this kind the facts justify the conclusion that 
where philosophy has not been cultivated by peoples whose 
history goes back to untold ages, it has simply not been a 
mental necessity of their lives. It meets no need of their nature ; 
its puzzles and solutions, its postulates and demonstrations, would 
mean nothing for them, would raise neither curiosity nor admira- 
tion, but would be merely as the voice of the skylark in the ear 
of a sparrow. Even when we restrict our attention to those civilised 
nations of the West among which philosophy has been cultivated 
to any extent, we cannot for a moment maintain that a reasoned 
intelligible answer to any philosophical problem would gratify 
the curiosity, or would meet a real mental want, of more than a 
comparatively insignificant number of individuals. 

Considerations like these should suggest some sobering reflec- 
tions to the select company of the philosophers. Preoccupation 
with their necessary or self-allotted task is apt to distort the 
perspective of the undertaking. They are readily affected by the 
fallacy of over-concentration, and tend to suffer from philosopher's 


blindness. Claiming to think out for themselves important 
human problems, they come to regard themselves as representa- 
tives of humanity ; and from this the step seems easy to the 
assumption that the intellectual fate of humanity hangs in the 
balance of their mental scales. They forget that what are problems 
for themselves are either instinctive possessions of humanity at 
large or do not exist as vital interests for humanity in general. 
On the first alternative, humanity requires no representative who 
at best can but reaffirm primary human convictions, can but 
give reasons (good or bad) for what is believed on instinct : on 
the second, the fate of humanity cannot be affected by the solution, 
or the failure of a solution, of a question in which it is in general 
not interested. Moreover, from the position that philosophical 
problems are genuine human problems we cannot draw the 
inference that they are of universal human significance. They 
are only of import to those human individuals who are capable 
of seeing them, and are compelled by their mental history to 
raise and to try to solve them. They are the outgrowth of the 
mentality of certain human units or a certain type of human 
individual. They do not concern those whose mental constitution 
does not contain this peculiar form of intellectual sensitiveness or 
irritability. The problems are doubtless none the less real 
problems arising out of the situation of human beings on the 
globe ; for the human beings who are awake to their meaning 
have as much right to fulfil their human life in raising these 
questions as others in ignoring them. So long as this is all that 
is meant by the phrase " problems of human interest," there can 
be no objection to treating the problems of philosophy as of this 
kind. There can be no doubt, however, that the phrase as 
generally used means much more. We have merely to recall 
the familiar appeal to the principle of "universality" as a test 
of truth, the idea of " universal law " for all mankind as a test 
of moral duty, the conception of " universal consciousness " or 
" consciousness in general " as a ground of real experience to 
see at once that the intention of the philosopher is to deal with 
problems as if they existed for all mankind, and to speak for all 
humanity when he offers a solution. But it is plain on the facts 
that the position of a philosopher relatively to humanity is at the 


best purely hypothetical. What he can maintain at most is that 
if a human being were to raise such problems as he raises, the 
solution should take the form he offers. The genesis of an 
ultimate question is the origin of philosophy ; and behind that 
question lies the peculiar mental constitution, endowment, and 
development of a specific type of human mind. The answer is 
co-relative to the mind that appreciates the question. Historically 
speaking, it cannot be asserted that the question is a necessary 
one ; all that can be said is that it happens to be raised by a 
certain number of human minds. In that sense philosophy is 
an incident, an event (no doubt an important event) in the 
history of mankind. Philosophers may regard the question as 
necessary, but not for a better reason than any other question is 
necessary. The only reason is that the mental development and 
type of conscious existence of the philosopher take the form and 
direction which raise the ultimate question. The mental life of 
millions of other human beings does not take that direction, and 
that is the only reason these do not raise the question. In other 
words, the sole reason for considering the philosophical question 
inevitable for one type of mind, equally explains why it is not 
inevitable for others, viz. the special constitution of their mental 
life. The philosophical mood has no better justification than 
any special instinct, or than any rare intuition ; it forces itself on 
some minds, and these minds must follow it if they are to fulfil 
their peculiar mental needs. When philosophers try to prove 
the problem of philosophy to be necessary in the sense that 
the very nature of humanity involves it, they are merely 
accentuating the importance of philosophy to themselves by 
saying that this is the special way a human mind works in their 
special case. They are not justified in history or in logic in 
maintaining that the human mind in general does not work out 
its destiny, or cannot fulfil its purpose, unless it tries to solve 
philosophical questions. A philosophical justification of the 
problem of philosophy is either a repetition instead of a solution 
of the point at issue, or else is an obvious petitio principii. If 
philosophers undertake their task, as many have done, " in the 
interests of humanity," " to support or justify the great postulates 
of human life," this is no doubt an excellent motive for their 


endeavours, and gives a moral impetus to their industry. But 
except as showing the intimate connection between their own type 
of human mind and the questions they raise, such meritorious 
benevolence is either misplaced or philosophically inadequate. It 
is misplaced if it implies that the postulates are unsafe without 
such justification, and that the majority of mankind await in 
anxiety the fate of their postulates at the hands of philosophers ; 
it is philosophically inadequate if it implies that philosophy is 
restricted to such an interest in its problems, and is not warranted 
in raising, should some philosophical mind feel called upon to do 
so, the further question whether there are such postulates at all, 
or the question whether humanity's postulates have any ultimate 
place in the nature of things. 


There can be no doubt, then, that the claim of the philosopher 
to be a representative of humanity as a whole, when he engages 
in the task of philosophy, is due to a false perspective and the 
exaggeration of over-concentration. If he could point to a body 
of doctrine agreed upon by all who have pursued the business of 
philosophy, and could, again, show that such a body of doctrine 
has raised the mental level of mankind, there would be some 
historical, if not logical, foundation for his claim to speak for and 
to humanity. It is just the existence of such an accepted range 
of common knowledge which gives a certain strength to the claims 
of science, or at least of some sciences, to speak in the name 
of the higher interests of humanity, and to be a great civilising 
agency in the higher evolution of the race. We may grant that 
the agreement amongst scientists is restricted within certain, 
perhaps narrow, limits. Still within these limits it is relatively 
constant and unambiguous over a long period of time. More- 
over, even when the alteration of conceptions can be historically 
ascertained, the change of view is in many cases continuous, and 
in all cases leads, in spite of temporary opposition to new ideas, 
to an ultimate stability of scientific opinion. Except in the 
interests of a particular philosophical theory, the same cannot be 
said to be true of philosophy. Philosophical doctrine changes, 


but does not change continuously in a definite uniform direction. 
It changes mainly by way of opposition between theories, each 
of which in turn claims to be a final answer to the same funda- 
mental problems, and therefore to be true at the expense of and 
by negation of the preceding. At no time can any theory be 
held to express a common clearly reasoned conviction on the 
part even of the best philosophical minds of a given epoch, no 
matter how short the epoch may be. What is more remarkable 
is that when a philosophical theory does hold sway over a fair 
number of minds for a considerable time, the philosophical spirit 
seems to decline : authority takes the place of understanding, 
inquiry gives way to exegesis, and criticism to commentary. It 
would seem, therefore, that what is a sign of life in science is a 
symptom of decay in philosophy ; for common agreement is the 
healthy atmosphere in which science flourishes and comes to 
maturity, while the uniformity of opinion which creates a 
philosophical school checks the growth of the spirit of philosophical 
criticism. Or, from the other side, individuality in science is a 
restriction on the value of the truths enunciated, but in philosophy 
it is the life and energy of the whole attitude. In some respects 
the position of the philosopher resembles that of the poet ; his 
synoptic outlook on the world is inseparable from the locus of 
his individual perspective. The greater and more comprehensive 
his individuality, the more of humanity it contains within itself, 
the more will his deliverances meet with some response from 
certain of his fellowmen, of equal or less spiritual compass than 
himself. But in no case is the elimination of his individuality 
possible, consistently with his claim to gather the scattered rays 
of the world's reason into the perspective of his own mind. He 
cannot begin by assuming that his mind is representative of all 
humanity, or even of the humanity of his own epoch and race. 
He can only discover that he is representative of other minds 
after the event, if his thoughts meet their thoughts, if his deliver- 
ances are acknowledged by others. Indeed, most philosophers 
seek in the first instance to satisfy their own mental demands by 
carrying their thoughts to the limit of their own capacity and 
mind. Having done this to their own satisfaction, the result is 
left to the "judgment of the world," which in this case is the 


judgment of the like-minded. This being so, direct continuity of 
thought on the ultimate issues of philosophy cannot be expected 
in the same way as it is expected and aimed at by science. 
There may be much overlapping or intersecting of the regions of 
thought explored and delineated by the several philosophers ; 
but complete identity of synoptic vision is in the nature of the 
case impossible. As long as human individuality counts as an 
essential factor in the constitution of the philosophical problem, 
this conclusion is inevitable, whatever be the corollaries to which 
it leads when we seek to estimate the nature and value of the 
work of philosophy. For to each individuality the world is a 
different world ; and the more intense and definite the in- 
dividuality, the more clearly is this seen. The interest in "the 
world-problem " arises from the special way in which the world 
appeals to a given individual. The elimination of his individuality 
in the make-up of the problem would involve the elimination of 
his interest in it. Hence it is that we never find any philosopher 
accepting en bloc the system of another ; the agreement where- 
ever it exists is always partial and qualified, or covers particular 
points ; and even the ideas agreed upon are recast in order to fit 
into the central point of view at which each stands. It may be 
said that the general concepts adopted are so framed as to form 
a common meeting ground for the different minds engaged with 
the same problem, and that the use of such general concepts is 
intended to establish agreement, not to express difference. But 
this is not altogether the correct statement of the situation. The 
general concepts are due to the generality and extent of the 
objects which the sweep of the philosophers vision covers at a 
single coup (fail ; and the inter-communication of these concepts 
by different minds is an important but an indirect consequence 
of their generality. The orbit of one mind intersects that of 
another, because the range of the field contemplated by each is 
sufficiently wide to cover partially that of another. They are 
both in the same world, although it is a different world for each ; 
and the generality of the objects considered makes overlapping 
of interests in part possible, and is the way in which community in 
the same world is established. The concepts are not devised for 
purposes of human intercourse between philosophers ; intercourse 


is rather the result of the character of the concepts in question. 
In very few cases can the ultimate concepts of different 
philosophers be completely coincident in meaning ; in most cases 
they merely intersect with varying extent of area ; in every case 
the coincidence, partial or complete, neither destroys nor dis- 
penses with the individuality of the outlook which constitutes the 
philosophical attitude of each towards the world. The very fact 
that the philosopher A's position in the world is itself part of 
the content of the world as viewed by the philosopher B, and 
vice versd, ought to make it sufficiently clear that no complete 
transmutation or superposition of synoptic visions is possible for 
the two thinkers. This accounts for the difficulty philosophers 
have in understanding each other, an understanding which may 
vary from sceptical distrust to " general agreement." l It also 
lets us see that the attempt to identify conceptual thought with a 
transfinite point of view and to eliminate individual vision by a 
traffic with abstractions, is to confuse similarity of purpose with 
identity of interests, community of object with coincidence of 
mental outlook, the angularity of perspective with the parallel 


There are many reasons why the majority of mankind seem 
to find no mental necessity in the pursuit of philosophy. 
Philosophy, it has been said, requires leisure, and most people 
have not the requisite detachment from pressing everyday 
practical concerns to enable them to give themselves to con- 
templation. There is a strange naiveti or self-satisfied illusion 
in this reflection, in which Aristotle sums up the condition 
distinguishing practical and theoretical life. If the taper of a 
man's intellect kindles at the touch of the fire of knowledge, 
doubtless it will require the retreat of protected silence in which 
to burn aright. But the plain fact is that most men do not want 
this kind or amount of knowledge which philosophy seeks to 
obtain. Their intellects do not respond to the call of " truth for 

1 "General agreement" in many cases is due to courtesy or good nature. The 
social instinct is so much stronger than intellectual energy. 


truth's sake," or " truth to the uttermost," which is said to be 
the prevailing note of philosophy. Give them ever so much 
leisure, and they will fill it anyhow rather than with contempla- 
tion. There are and have been thousands who have no lack of 
leisure, but they prefer to fill it with fighting or fox-hunting 
instead of philosophy. And, on the other hand, any one pressed 
hard by practical affairs can, if he choose, either make room for 
meditation or decrease his interest in practice in order to increase 
his interest in theoretic life. Diogenes and Plato had both leisure 
enough for philosophy ; but their relation to the practical goods 
of life was very different all the difference between neglect and 
control. Leisure can be made for whatever ends a man 
seriously cares to pursue. It requires leisure to be a useful 
practical man, as well as to be a philosopher ; andji man must 
be undisturbed by the misgivings and pre-occupations of the 
trjinker if he is to accomplish anything practical. What each 
requires is not so much detachment as concentration on his 
selected purpose, and this quality presupposes the necessary 
mental endowment and interest for the task he has in view. In 
our own day there is more truth, or at least more of what passes 
for knowledge, than most men care about. If it be said that 
philosophy is the best way to use the leisure which a man has, 
this is by no means obvious to any one except the philosopher by 
disposition, whose predilection does not make him an altogether 
impartial judge. 

The truth, in short, is that philosophy seeks to secure a 
special kind of mental satisfaction, and the pursuit of this 
satisfaction is in the long run literally a matter of selective choice 
on the part of the individual. Philosophy at its best seeks to 
supply a connected intellectual grasp of the world which will 
satisfy a man's capacity for thinking out the nature of things. 
When attained, it brings a peculiar consciousness of intellectual 
repose in face of the changing course of events and the endless 
array of finite phenomena, which is unlike any other state of 
mind, which is incommunable, and which is unmistakable by 
any one who has been even partially aware of it. No one who 
has had the glowing consciousness of an illuminating idea ever 
doubts that he has arrived at the satisfaction he was in search of; 


but because it can neither be described nor shared, he never 
regards it as anything but the reward of his own individual choice. 
There is, indeed, no substitute for this satisfaction, and so no 
substitute for philosophy. But there are other ways of attaining 
mental satisfaction, completely adequate to other types of men- 
tality ; and these may be selected for their own sake with as 
much justification as the pursuit of philosophy. In some cases 
they are as enduring and as valuable as philosophy ; for there 
are other attitudes even to the world as a whole than that of 
philosophy. A connected conceptional scheme of the world is 
"not the only way to be mentally at peace with it. 

It should not be supposed, however, that the activity of 
conceptual thought is necessarily at its best in philosophy, or that 
philosophy has the privilege of realising thought processes at 
their highest level. Apart from the fact that the history of 
philosophy would be but an ironical commentary on this pre- 
tension, and apart from the insoluble difficulty of establishing the 
proper method of philosophy, we find the contrast familiarly 
made between philosophical thinking and scientific thinking, a 
contrast accepted apparently by philosophers as a sound distinc- 
tion. Thinking that goes beyond the wants or limits of science is 
said to be philosophical thinking. But since science claims to 
have a complete and rigorous regard for all verifiable truth, the 
thinking that trespasses beyond this area is not merely un- 
scientific in the neutral sense, but untrue in every sense. It is a 
strange flattery that science pays to philosophy when it thus 
hands over to philosophy its own unsolved or insoluble problems; 
ancl it shows a singular naivetd of mind if philosophers .accept as 
. compliment what can only be a thinly veiled satire. If we 
consider, not the problems dealt with by science and philosophy 
respectively, but the procedure of thought in the two cases, a 
similar contrast is drawn between the two. For while science 
aims at supplying all " exact " knowledge, the handling of all 
knowledge which is incapable of exact treatment is generously 
conceded to philosophers. 1 It need hardly be said that, if these 
contrasts are tenable, philosophy cannot claim to occupy a 
peculiarly privileged position as an exponent of the highest form 
1 Cf. Merz, History of European though^ ii. 550. 


of conceptual activity. And when it is added that many of the 
strongest intellects in science deliberately avoid all association 
with philosophy on pain of losing caste with the scientific world, 
there is pri ma facie more occasion for humility than exaltation in 
the attempt to find complete satisfaction for intellectual needs 
along the line of philosophical reflection. 

A further consideration suggests itself. Even intellectual 
activity at its best is not necessarily found by way of argument 
and inference, which are so steadily pursued by science and 
philosophy. These are often but lengthy processes of articulating 
a swift and consummate intellectual insight, which is as sure in its 
grasp of the nature of the object dealt with as any long series of 
inferences, and which at any rate is not rendered more certain of 
its comprehension at the end of the sorites than it is at the stage 
of initial insight. The process of inference may, in a great 
many cases, only articulate a concentrated direct vision, which is 
not less but often more satisfying intellectually than the lumber- 
ing pedantry of circuitous syllogisms. Indeed, it is admitted by 
some logicians that the longer the process of argument the 
greater the danger of error in the conclusion. If it is sometimes 
true that reasoning may be sound in spite of the deliverance of 
insight, it is as often equally true that an intuition is sure despite 
the process of reasoning. It is with intellectual activity in science 
as with the operation of intellect in daily life which we call 
practical wisdom. A wise man may be able to give reasons for 
a line of conduct ; a wiser man can feel sure of himself and his 
insight without reasons, or even in spite of them. A penetrating 
aphorism is not the result of detailed logical articulation of thought, 
and goes home none the less swiftly. Logic is the minister not the 
prince of intelligence ; and wit is the master of wisdom, none the 
less so because it can stoop to be the servant of folly. If an error 
can be successfully assailed by a witticism, we but make ourselves 
ridiculous if we painfully circumvent it by a syllogism : just as 
an overwhelming coup de main renders all elaborate strategy 

It should not be forgotten, again, that the satisfaction to the 
cravings of the intellect which philosophy aspires to give, is one 
which can only be sought because of a peculiar forceful energy of 


mind. It seems inseparably associated not simply with unusual 
curiosity, and uncommon intellectual disquiet, but with a kind of 
indomitable resolution of will, that refuses to give way before 
obstacles and must see things to the end. It is a mood that has 
invariably been supported by singular powers of passion, of 
solitary self-reliance, and resistless intellectual courage. In some 
cases we feel that results have been achieved and systems 
established by sheer determination to get to an end somehow, 
rather than give in for want of inspiration. It is plain that the 
qualities that make for such a purpose, while certainly not found 
in many men, are especially attributes of the masculine form of 
the human mind. Systems of philosophy are created by men for 
men, and where they are not a matter of sheer indifference or 
contempt to the feminine mind, they form the subject of detached 
curiosity, critical amusement, or feminine wonderment at this 
singular display of masculine activity. In the face of these facts, 
evident to any student of human nature, and known to most 
teachers of philosophical literature, there can be no claim on the 
part of philosophy to be the only way by which even complete 
intellectual satisfaction is to be found by humanity. 


If philosophy, then, on the evidence suggested by its history 
and by the actual facts of experience, is not and cannot claim to 
be a universally necessary process of the human mind ; if it is a 
peculiar attitude adopted by a specific type of mind and 
associated with geographical situation, racial character, individual 
endowment, and even the climatic conditions of human life ; if 
it 'seems by its very nature incapable of establishing uniformity 
of result or continuity of development amongst those who do 
prosecute its problems what kind of contribution does it make 
to human achievement ? 

It need hardly be said that the smallness of the company of 
philosophical minds, relatively to the whole of mankind, is not 
of itself a consideration which determines the significance of 
philosophy in the scheme of human life. However much the 
fact may modify the ambitions of the enthusiastic, and qualify 


the pretensions even of the most confident to speak for all man- 
kind, still the value is not decreased by the mere admission 
that few are concerned in its maintenance. Nor is that value 
necessarily increased by the same admission. Doubtless, rarity 
is an element determining the nature of value ; the best things 
are often few in number. But a minority may consist of fools, 
as well as of wise men. The fact of number, in short, is 
irrelevant when we are considering the true place of a type of 
mind in the scheme of experience. A whole nation of men 
might find the proof of the law of gravitation meaningless, and 
thereby proclaim the limitations of their intellect. The few 
amongst mankind who claim to have seen ghosts have never 
been able to convict the remainder of defective vision. 

Philosophers have often traded on the connection between 
value and numerical limitation, much to the annoyance of the 
excluded majority, never to the ultimate triumph of their ideas, 
and rarely without preparing the way for their own discomfiture. 
Supremacy of character is only realised by having overcome the 
pride that goes before the fall ; and superiority of intellect is only 
obtained by the self-negation which knows no detachment from 
its object, and finds its highest achievement in the modesty of 
self-oblivion. This is particularly the case in philosophy where 
the intellect goes out to meet so vast an object, and where both 
the magnitude of the task as well as the extremely limited 
success hitherto attained in fulfilling it, leaves so little time or 
room for intellectual self-complacency. Even if the philosophers 
were successful to any degree in carrying out their undertaking, 
the result achieved, so far as it is true, ceases at once to be a 
private possession, it becomes a truth for other minds, and 
obtains its human value on that account. To turn the result of 
thought into private gain or glory, has always in the long run 
given it the appearance of being a mere private opinion ; and 
what pretends to be sublime truth thus becomes at a single step 
the object of ridicule and contempt. What gains respect for 
philosophers is not so much the result achieved by their thinking, 
as the supreme importance to all mankind of the object they 
seek to understand ; and in the presence of this object there 
is no place for vain glory. 


The importance of philosophy, then, is not to be decided one 
way or another by the restricted range of individuals who are 
interested in the solution of its problems. This must be 
determined by the peculiar character of the mental activity it 
involves, and, simultaneously, by the kind of end it seeks to 

In order to bring into clear relief what the philosopher aims 
at, one must first of all recognise the significance of the elementary 
fact that philosophy is a specific attitude or mood of a human 
individual whose mental life is permeated from its earliest to its 
latest stages by social influences. He is not merely socially 
conditioned ; his whole being is socially constituted. Moreover, 
the mood of philosophy, if it appears at all, does not arise till his 
experience as a social being has matured. By that time the 
structure and composition of his mind are saturated with the 
substance of the social consciousness in which he has been 
nurtured and which has made him what he is. What he means 
by his individual mind is largely obtained through intercourse 
with his society. 1 

1 The most characteristic forms of social intercourse appear in the inter- 
change of ideas through language, and in sharing duties, rights and institutions. 
These media of inter-communication constitute the substance of the social order which 
the individual finds awaiting him when he enters the historical society into which he 
is born. They are given to him as material for his nurture and upbuilding into 
conscious membership in the community. In the early stages he has no choice but to 
accept and assimilate, and only later does he venture to modify or reject ; and to the 
last his individuality is sustained through ever deeper intercourse with his social 
heritage. Its value to him and its power over him remain overwhelming. The 
individuality he acquires, therefore, and thinks of as his own, is the outgrowth of 
social agencies, which have endowed him with his substance. One may say that in the 
normal healthy individual, the sense of distinction within the social communion is 
never carried to the breaking point of separation ; it is always maintained consistently 
with continued social intercourse. Complete mental insulation is the last agony of the 
human mind. The individuality in which any one consists, is, then, largely social in 
origin, social in composition, social in its forms of self-maintenance. 

This fact might be a matter of indifference to the problem of philosophy, if the 
mind which philosophy seeks to satisfy had a kind of abstract unitary self, 
detachable from the conditions of its origin, in much the same way as a kernel may be 
isolated from its shell. In this case the social system would be merely the historical 
medium of its development, and could be cast off as soon as the self was consciously 
established. But in reality the individual mind is utterly inseparable from what it 
contains, and its self is its whole mind, not any element within it however central in 


Society has moulded the individual mind of the philosopher 
before he adopts the philosophical mood. Before he can think 
"for himself," he must have acquired the distinctive individuality 
which only social influence can create ; and the mind that thinks 
philosophically is already a mind with a specific constitution. 
His individual activity may be directed to satisfy his own mind ; 
but the mind that is to be satisfied is not an abstraction ; it has, 
from the first, a definite organisation and is saturated with social 
influences. It is commonly said that a philosopher's problems 
are set by his historical situation ; and this is true. But it is even 
more important to observe that the philosopher's own mind is 
itself moulded under the pressure of specific historical agencies, 
and takes on the shape determined by its social origin and 
constitution. It may think abstract things in abstract ways ; 
but it is naive confusion to suppose that a mind which thinks 
abstractly is itself a pure abstraction, that a mind which thinks 
about universal objects is a universal mind. 

Given an individual mind of this nature, the philosopher's 
peculiar interest may be said to be a consequence and an 

importance. The mind is what and how it thinks, what and how it acts, what and 
how it feels. And the "what" and the "how" in every case reflect and involve 
its social origin and connection. Not to speak of the language which embodies his 
thought and conditions his reflection, his ideas of the world, of nature, and of human 
life, are, in the first instance, those that prevail in the social order to which the 
individual belongs, so far as the individual has assimilated the religion, the knowledge, 
and the moral judgments of his tribe or nation. His further modification and 
criticism of these ideas are carried on by constant reference to standards of 
intelligibility which will keep him in touch with his immediate social environment. 
He thinks in order to be understood, i.e. to develop intellectual communion with 
his fellows. His character and behaviour will be tolerated and accepted only if they 
reveal the type of social life of which he is a member. His very feelings, instincts, 
and emotions take their form from the racial constitution of his people. From his 
highest aspirations to the half-unconscious suggestions which come like shadowy 
recollections from an unremembercd past, his mental processes betray his racial and 
ancestral heritage. It is such a mind, so constituted, and no other, that seeks 
satisfaction in the mood of philosophy. The unity which it possesses is, in the 
first instance, largely an ethical unity, the unity of a personality with mental tendencies 
of its own and with claims and with duties in a social group. It is in this sense 
that the individual attaches reality to his own particular existence as distinct from 
others. And his unity is not that of a focal point but of an organised system 
of functions ; for this alone can justify the claim to be regarded as a distinctive member 
of a social order. 



accentuation of his specific individuality. Like every one else 
he selects his special function because he is individual, and by 
selection consolidates individuality still further. In this selection 
alone lies the abstract character of his task ; and in the same 
sense every individual by specialising becomes abstract. He is 
giving up the whole or the most of his activity to what is 
admittedly but an element of his concrete nature. Neither 
the philosopher's mind nor his occupation is abstract merely 
because he is concerned with thought and thinking ; for every 
one thinks, and thought is not necessarily abstract. His 
peculiarity lies in seeking to satisfy his individuality to the 
completest extent that the special function of thinking makes 
possible ; or, what comes to the same thing, he tries to carry out 
the mental activity of thought to its uttermost and fulfil its 
highest demands. To get the utmost satisfaction for his 
individual nature which thinking can give him, is by no means 
an abstract achievement. It is regarded as such only by those 
who identify concreteness and reality with what belongs to 
the senses to the exclusion of thought, which by contrast is 
abstract. But in truth the essence of the abstraction here 
lies precisely in the process of exclusion ; and if thought when 
excluded from sense-perception is abstract, equally so is sense- 
perception when cast off from thought. The only concrete 
mental reality is the continuity or diffusion of the two. And it 
requires very little experience of life to learn that over-con- 
centration on the satisfaction which sense can give, will prove as 
one-sided as any other one-sided exaggeration. 


What starts the philosopher on the pursuit of his special form 
of satisfaction is the influence exerted on his mind by the 
development of general ideas embodied in language. These 
are at once the creation and the condition of complex social 
intercourse, and symbolise continuous community of mind with 
mind. The use of language helps to substantiate ideas till 
they appear to the mind as real as things outside. When 
handed about from one individual to another they assume an 


independence which resembles the objects of nature. They are so 
intimately associated with the operations of the individual mind 
using them, that they seem to be his own, and yet they expand 
his mental range indefinitely beyond himself. There is no 
sphere of his mental life where he feels more at liberty, and 
none where he feels so much at home. It is not surprising that 
the discovery of the existence of this socially created realm of 
ideas should thrill to intoxication a certain type of mind, and 
suggest the possibility of finding in the life of thought alone the 
very heart's desire. It is only after the stage of free ideas has 
been attained by the mind that the pursuit of ideas for their own 
sake can be undertaken ; and this is the selective interest of the 

The philosophical mood, then, consists in seeking the 
maximum of satisfaction which the function of thinking can 
afford the individual. It is thus distinct from all restricted ways 
of thinking, whether the limitations are determined by practical 
considerations, by the artificial boundaries of the special sciences, 
or, it may be, by intellectual indifference. The only restriction 
imposed on the philosopher's form of thinking arises from the 
special quality of his mind and his capacity to follow wherever 
thought leads him. This will affect the range of his philosophical 
inquiry, and the degree of success with which he will be able to 
prosecute it. 

The " maximum of satisfaction " to be had from thinking, 
might be interpreted in different senses. It might mean the 
satisfaction obtained by thinking as much, and about as many 
things, as possible. This is often spoken of as philosophy; 
philosophy is then identified with unusual intellectual curiosity. 
There is, however, in such a case, no maximum secured or 
obtainable ; we have an indefinite series, or perhaps an unlimited 
continuity, of pleasant states of mind, but neither internal 
coherence nor finality in the results acquired. Interest in all 
objects of all thought is doubtless an important characteristic 
of the mood of one who claims to be a " spectator of all time and 
all existence." But the philosopher in thinking seeks finality 
rather than extent : it is in a certain quality of thought and not 
in quantity that the maximum of satisfaction lies. This is found 


in the end by which and in which thinking is fulfilled ; for 
thinking, being a mental activity, is directed upon, and is realised 
in an end of its own. When attained, we have all that thought 
can accomplish and the mind rests satisfied in the result. Here 
we have the kind of satisfaction which philosophy specially and 
properly seeks to supply. 

But at this point philosophers begin at once to diverge. 
They have understood, or they have sought, this end of the 
thinking activity in several ways. Certainly they all agree that 
finality must at least be assumed or demanded, otherwise there 
would be no peculiar task for philosophy to carry out ; for to 
start any undertaking implies not only that we have something 
definite in view, but that the object dealt with has a circumscribed 
nature of its own. But some have taken philosophy to be the 
search for certain ultimate irreducible forms or elements of 
thought, each of which is final and the total number of which 
is fixed, presumably by the nature of thought itself. 1 Others, 
again, have looked upon the end of thinking as a kind of goal 
towards which it works. The end guides the direction of its 
activity and at the same time determines the frontiers within 
which it can operate legitimately, and beyond which, indeed, it 
becomes a trespasser or worse an aimless vagrant. 2 Still others 
consider the finality sought for to be that of a self-closed system 
or world of thought, which contains explicitly and implicitly 
all that thinking can accomplish, and in the construction of which 
it at once exhausts itself completely and fulfils its activity. 3 

Such divergent views are doubtless in part to be traced to 
the manifest ambiguity that lies hidden in words like "final," 
" ultimate," " complete." This explains, if it does not justify, a 

1 This is one of the commonest views of the thinking philosophy has to do with. 
It controls formal logic and much psychology. Many special sciences are said to 
be conducted philosophically in this sense. Aristotle's Metaphysics is almost 
exclusively dominated by this conception. 

* This is the view of all those who regard philosophy as the search for the 
limits of thought. Allied to this is the inquiry into the criterion of truth ; 
here all thinking can be brought to its end at once by applying this touchstone. 
Kant is one of the most conspicuous examples of this type of philosopher ; but the 
type has many varied representatives. 

* All metaphysical systems and cosmic theories belong to this type. Spencer and 
Hegel may be considered conspicuous representatives. 


one-sided interpretation, often adopted for historical reasons or 
even quite uncritically. They all, however, seem to imply that 
in " thinking to the end " philosophy is concerned with a kind of 
termimis ad quern which is somehow to arrest thought and 
prevent it from going any further. The crudest form in which 
this appears is where the object of thought is always looked 
upon as a barrier impeding the free exercise of thinking, and the 
" ultimate object " is a last obstacle which thought by no effort 
can surmount. But the same idea is involved when we seek the 
end of thought in a " supreme unity " which is the highest 
object to which thought can aspire. The former of these views 
needs no serious consideration : it is due to an elementary 
confusion between an object of thought and an external existence 
outside the individual. The other view merits some attention, if 
only in order to bring out more precisely the general nature of 
the thinking process. 


We cannot remind ourselves too often that articulate thinking 
is a function, and but one specialised function, of the individual 
mind. It arises late in mental evolution, and plays its distinctive 
part alongside various other mental functions, such as perceiving, 
desiring, remembering. The activity of thinking consists in 
that operation by which the individual mind concerned unites 
elements presented as different, and thereby constitutes a single 
whole, a mental unity in difference, a thought, which in its 
highest form is the concept We cannot, except for purposes of 
abstract analysis, separate the thinking from the thought, the 
conceiving from the concept. The only reality in the case is the 
individual mind exercising the function of thinking so as to 
produce or evolve thought But for the influence of language, 
which has the effect of externalising the thought and cutting it 
off from the activity of thinking, we should never in theory, as 
we do not in experience, dissociate the function from its ful- 
filment, 1 any more than we can separate the function of thinking 

1 When the mental process is entirely separated from the result of thinking we 
arrive at the singular position adopted, \e.g. by Mr. Bradley, that the process is purely 


from the mind which realises itself by exercising such a function. 
We do not treat the functions of an organism as if they existed 
and operated of themselves ; it is the organism as an individual 
body which functions in different ways. We do not look upon 
the action of a physical mass as independent of the thing which 
acts ; the action is the action of the thing. Even a man's acts 
are not separated from the man, no matter how much they seem 
outside him ; we look on them as expressions of character and 
continuous in quality with his motives and intentions. The 
same holds true of a man's thinking and his thought. Thinking 
has its being only as a function of an individual mind, and 
thoughts are but the culmination of the process of thinking, the 
process of consciously unifying discrete differences. 

It is necessary to lay stress on this point not merely on 
general grounds, but in order to make clear the special nature of 
philosophical thinking. When thinking in its highest form is 
detached from the concrete individuality in whom alone thinking 
is found, two effects generally appear. Thinking is regarded as 
a sort of self-acting mental mechanism which works according to 
certain laws of its own, turns out results of an impersonal 
character, i.e. neither of peculiar value for, nor derived from, the 
individual, and may turn out results that put the individual mind 
to sheer confusion and dismay. The other effect is seen in the 
supposition that a supreme unity of thought subsists inde- 
pendently of thinking, and is either its precondition or its goal 

"symbolic," a mental sign, the result alone being "significant." This is curiously 
reminiscent of Berkeley's theory of Natural Law. If the process is merely a symbol 
the result cannot be anything more ; if it is a significant symbol we do not isolate it 
from the result. Such a view is as abstract and inadequate as the opposite theory, 
that the mental process is alone real and the result a mere symbol. And, indeed, if 
we insist on isolating the process from the result, it is irrelevant which we treat as 
symbol and which as reality. 

When the reality of the process is transformed into a symbol, the result becomes a 
floating adjective, a world of ideal meanings, and thinking loses touch with the 
reality of mental life altogether. 

It is curious to note the entanglement to which this paradoxical view leads when 
it is accepted with all its consequences. Mr. Bosanquet, who follows Mr. Bradley, 
provides a good illustration of this in a discussion in his Logic % vol. i., Introduction, 
} 7. There seems nothing gained and much lost by reading an intelligible phrase 
backwards. " The meaning of the world " has a straightforward significance : " the 
world of meaning " is not even a good metaphor. 


and consummation. These effects are in a manner inevitable : 
for if we eliminate the individual mind from the thinking func- 
tion, thinking must work like a self-acting machine ; l and if the 
thinking be a self-complete mechanism, it may very well have a 
corresponding independent self-complete object upon which it is 

When thinking is thus mechanised, concepts assume an almost 
spatial precision of outline, and arrange themselves one beside 
another in a sort of intellectual mosaic called a scheme of thought. 
The thinking agent is turned into a quasi-external spectator of 
his own processes, watching the revolutions of his intellect as it 
produces concept, hypothesis, and inference, and having neither 
the power nor the interest to participate in its operations. At its 
best the work of thinking seems to go on with a severe rigour of 
logical necessity that rivals the inevitableness of fate itself, and 
the helpless beholder feels himself in the grasp of his innermost 
destiny, all the more irresistible because it is not without him. 
So far from turning from such conditions of thinking, the 
mechanised intellect sometimes regards such necessity as an 
ideal : 2 in science it becomes an indwelling prejudice, 3 and in 
philosophy it maybe even an obsession. In other minds, how- 
ever, when this view of thinking prevails, there is an instinctive 
recoil. Thinking which is thus fateful and irresistible seems 
after a time fatuous, wearisome, depressing. 4 The very monotony 
of the click-clack of the logical machine as it works out success- 
fully its syllogisms and inferences dulls the mind to the vitality 
of truth. There is felt to be an element of pathos and even 
tragedy in a human mind possessing within itself a piece of 
mechanism that operates regardless of the interests and the 
choice of the individual, nay, so completely indifferent that it 

1 Cf. Bergson's view that the intellect can only deal successfully with spatial and 
mechanical aspects of the world probably on the old principle that like only 
knows like. 

1 Cf. the well-known passage in Mill's Autobiography \ where he describes the 
effect of science on the sense of beauty. 

* Cf. Huxley's strangely expressed desire to have an intellect that would turn out 
truth with automatic and unerring precision. 

4 E.g. when the mind is controlled by the bias towards scientific demonstration 
and certainty in the form supplied by the mechanical and mathematical sciences. 


may produce results which spell ruin to his dearest hopes. To 
be carried along by the irresistible force of a sequence of thought 
while the individual mind watches the process as from the deck 
of a ship, may well seem to the mind much the same as being 
swept away on a high tide of passion ; for if in the latter case we 
lose ourselves in chaos, in the other case we never find ourselves 
at all. The impersonal character of the result, which is secured 
by "eliminating the individual," must be a defect and not a 
merit, if what is independent of the individual is no better than 
indifferent to him. Indeed, the impersonal closely resembles the 
non-human, and what lies outside humanity may be beneath a 
man's regard and not an object inspiring his devotion. Thus 
the ambition to secure impersonal thought by dispensing with 
the individual mind overreaches itself; a result is obtained 
which the individual mind can cheerfully dispense with altogether. 
And against this judgment of the individual there can be no 
appeal, for this alone can determine whether the product is 
worthy of pursuit and possession. The worship of a mental 
mechanism and its product is the worship of an idol of our own 
devising ; it degrades because it terrifies, and it terrifies because 
it is external to human individuality as a whole. Like many 
other superstitions it disappears as soon as it is replaced in the 
context of the individual life from which it should never have 
been detached. Thinking is nothing more than a specific function 
exercised by the individual mind. From this it draws its vitality. 
The individual effort involved in all thinking is inseparable from 
its very nature, conditioning its process, and in large measure 
determining its results. While the procedure of thinking has its 
own peculiar laws and aims, as the laws of seeing are different 
from those of hearing, the function is fulfilled in connection with 
the whole scheme of the individual life, separation from which 
leads not to healthy development but towards disease and 


The assumption of an independent supreme unity, forming 
the culminating point towards which thinking strives, seems 
quite unnecessary for the exercise of this function in the 


case of philosophy. Such an assumption is, in fact, nothing but a 
substantiation of the function of unifying in which, as already 
stated, thinking consists. The only concrete reality in thinking 
is the individual mind that thinks; this alone "unifies/ 1 The 
unity of thought is not an objective quasi-external entity 
subsisting independently of the mind ; it is that in which the 
process of thinking terminates and is focussed. The completion 
of the function, however, is inseparable from and in no sense 
independent of the function itself. 

The supposition of an independent supreme unity is of no 
assistance to the thinking process. If thinking succeeds in 
securing unity in any given case, that is all the unity it requires 
or is capable of, in the situation before it. A supreme unity 
placed outside all thinking in order to guide its direction, remains 
for ever outside, and can never be attained at all. Moreover, 
if it could be attained it would arrest all thinking. Thus a 
unity apparently designed in the best interests of the function 
can only be reached at the price of the cessation of thought 
altogether. Lurking behind such an assumption there seems a 
half-acknowledged feeling that the process of thinking may be 
but a kind of mental defect, a species of intellectual disquiet that 
should be and will ultimately be allayed : much in the same way 
as desires are considered by certain ascetics to be little better 
than disturbances or troublesome eruptions on the surface of the 
soul, the satisfaction of them being but the state in which the 
disturbance is got rid of. If the supreme unity of thinking 
involves the cessation of the process, the attainment of it may 
well seem a doubtful boon to those whose highest sense of well- 
being is achieved in the exercise of this activity. 1 The supreme 
unity of knowledge is at best but an imaginatively presented 
idea of unity which is used practically as a regulative principle 
to guide the process of knowledge. 

It is not difficult to see how the supreme unity comes to be 
regarded as an objective independent entity. In science and in 

1 This is doubtless the root of the objection so often made against any 
philosophical system claiming to be or to give the whole truth. 

On the other hand, the preference of the "pursuit of truth " to the " possession of 
it," is an extreme and less defensible form of the same attitude of mind. 


everyday life our thinking is circumscribed by the boundaries, 
deliberately and often arbitrarily fixed, of a specific object or 
field of objects. On this our activity is directed, and our function 
of unifying the different elements presented is kept within definite 
limits. The unity when attained is a definite and a systematically 
connected result, the achievement of which arrests the course of 
our thinking in that direction. If this familiar experience is 
generalised, we have the notion that ultimately and in the end 
all our thinking issues in a supreme form of unification which 
completes, and in that sense terminates, the operation of thinking. 
The circumscribed limitation which characterises the result of the 
operation of thinking in specific selected cases, is held to apply 
also to thinking in general, thinking which is non-selective. The 
former issues in a specific unifying principle or specific system of 
thought, the latter in a complete system of thoughts : in the 
former we have a " finite " object, in the latter an " infinite " 

It is easy to show that such a generalisation of the activity of 
thinking is logically unsound. The fallacy is threefold. It 
assumes that, because our interpretation of a given object issues 
in a specific constructive system of thoughts, a body of truth, the 
mere construction of a system of thought will give us an inter- 
pretation of an object. It also assumes that because in the 
interpretation of a particular range of fact we proceed by con- 
structing a connected system of its elements, for the interpretation 
of an absolute whole we must proceed by way of systematic 
connection. The third fallacy consists in supposing that because 
a systematic connection of thoughts about a given object furnishes 
the intelligible truth of that object, the systematic connection of 
the totality of thought will furnish the intelligible meaning of a 
whole which is never given as an object at all. It may be 
possible to construct a system of thoughts, and call this the 
supreme outcome of thought or philosophy. But we certainly 
cannot conclude from the nature of thinking that there is such 
a system, and therefore cannot dogmatically maintain that 
philosophy consists simply and solely in the construction of a 

That our knowledge of finite reality proceeds by way of 


systematic connection, is no proof that our knowledge of the 
whole of reality must proceed in the same way. On the contrary, 
the logical difference between part and whole would rather 
suggest that our way of grasping the whole must follow some 
other course. Nor is there any proof possible that the ultimate 
issue of knowledge is a system of thought. Why should know- 
ledge come to rest at all ? Why should it not find itself satisfied 
in the very activity of unifying the variety of detail presented to 
the mind, regardless of any final consummation in which thought 
would be completed at the price of cessation ? In other words, 
why should the supreme unity of thought not be a guiding ideal 
purpose instead of a realised termination of its activity ? 

If we take the analogous cases of art and morality we can see 
that this conception of a final system of thought, a completed 
truth, is not the satisfaction thought requires. The final aim of 
art is not the construction of a system of beautiful objects. 
There is no such system imaginable. The ideal of beauty may 
be said in a sense to be one, whatever be the forms in which it is 
embodied. 1 But this does not imply that the aim of art is to 
realise a single supreme object of beauty, or that the unity of art 
is satisfied best in the attainment of one consummate expression of 
the whole of beauty. On the contrary, the aim of art is to con- 
centrate the beautiful into separate creations, in each of which the 
ideal of beauty may be as fully satisfied as the medium employed 
permits. The medium varies in quality and in amount, whether 
it belong to the domain of sight and sound or touch. We do not 
expect a landscape to satisfy the sense of beauty in sound. Nor 
do we even imagine that there is but one supreme archetypal com- 
bination of colour and form that will alone perfectly delight the 
eye. A sonnet may be no less beautiful than a drama ; and again 
one sonnet may be as beautiful as another, and both may be 
" perfectly beautiful " though perfectly different. 

Similarly in the case of the good. The ideal of goodness is 
not a single scheme of personal life, even if such a scheme were 
compatible with the transitory quality of all good action, which is 
no sooner done than it recedes into the past of our lives, and its 
very goodness remains a mere memory. We do not imagine that 

1 Cf. Wallace, Gifforcl Lectures, p. 53. 


the whole of goodness is to be concentrated into one supremely 
good act, or one supremely good person ; nor is it the realisation of 
one system of good will into which our separate expressions of 
will must fit if the whole of goodness is to be attained. An act, 
a desire, a feeling may be "as good as it can be," and that is the 
only goodness we have to consider. A system of acts or habits 
may be good, just as an isolated act may be good ; and sometimes 
a system is better than an act, sometimes an act is better than a 
system of acts. But we do not require to wait for the completion 
of a system of goodness before we can satisfy the demands of the 
moral ideal. Nor if such a system were the ideal could it satisfy 
our desire to attain it ; for the whole system would not be realised 
by any one act, and every part would be felt to be less than the 
ideal requires and thus in a sense a wrong. But in the moral life 
we can only proceed step by step. Our efforts and our acts are 
discrete pulses of activity ; and at each step we seek to embody 
the utmost that the morally best requires. Only so is our sense 
of the ideal satisfied. In other words, the moral ideal is regarded 
as capable of being found with us at each moment of our moral 
life, concentrated and fully felt in every beat and rhythm of desire 
and action. 1 

Why should the satisfaction of the ideal of intellectual activity, 
which in its highest form we call philosophy, be attained in any 
other way than that followed in the case of the ideal of beauty or 
the ideal of goodness ? In exercising the function of thought 
upon any specific object it may certainly be allowed that the 
function of unity is satisfied when the object is resolved into a 
system of conceptions. But to suppose that this function of 
unity which creates the system is itself a system, is not warranted 
either by logic or by an analysis of the mental operation. 
Moreover, to maintain that the highest unity of thought must be 
expressed as a complete or final system of conceptions, is to 
assume that ultimate reality that in which thinking finally 
secures satisfaction is on the same footing as any finite 
object presented to thought. Butjiltimate reality, tl>c wbple, js 
strictly speaking not a single object at all ; and this for the simple 
reason that it includes at once " all objects of all thought," and 

1 This is the essential element of truth in the pleasure theory of the moral end. 


also thought itself which deals with objects. If the whole is really 
the whole without qualification, then the thinker and his thought 
fall within it as truly as any finite element whatsoever. The 
thinker's thought about the whole is itself a part of the whole 
from which by hypothesis it professes to be detached in order to 
make the whole its object. Those who ignore this in the 
interests of constructing a final system do so by the simple 
process of identifying the essential nature of thought as a 
function of unifying difference, with the supreme object of 
thought ; and this carries with it the corollary that this unity is a 
self-evolving organism which, as it develops, assumes the form of 
a systematic whole of conceptions. 

Apart, however, from these objections it is to be noted that the 
construction of a complete system of conceptions is not carried 
out simply in the interests of knowledge. Its underlying motive 
is aesthetic. 1 It is the work of the creative artist using as his 

'jifc*iM:.* .' & 

material the abstract results of conceptional activity. His aim is 
to secure the aesthetic satisfaction of producing a rounded 
symmetrical whole. There is art as well as artifice required to 
achieve his end. He selects and rejects, adjusts and arranges his 
material, in much the same way as any other artist working in a 
different medium must do. There can be no objection to 
presenting truth in this way ; and it is obviously impossible 
to suppress the artistic aspiration when giving free reign to the 
constructive imagination, just as it is inevitable that the orator 
when seeking to persuade should support his cause by using the 
resources of rhythm and sound which language contains. At the 
same time it would be misleading to ignore the presence of this 
aesthetic element in the construction of philosophical system, and 
erroneous to suppose that the only way to satisfy the mind's 
demand for complete intellectual unity is by a finished system of 
conception. Even if such a system were important, the fact that 
historically many kinds of systems have been devised and offered 
in order to satisfy the mind, should give us pause before accepting 
the view that system is really essential for the purpose. 

1 Graham Wallas makes a similar remark, The Great Society -, p. 107. 



Setting aside this view, then, we return to the primary fact 
that while in thought the mind consciously exercises the function 
of uniting a given manifold, drawn from any of the possible fields 
of experience, sensation, perception, or ideas, in philosophy the 
mind seeks to frame such a conception, or connection of concep- 
tions, as will give the completest consciousness of the real which 
the intellect can supply. Unifying is an operation of the mind ; 
a conception is the outcome of the operation. These are strictly 
inseparable and both subserve the one supreme purpose of the 
individual's mental life, its self-maintenance as a reality amongst 
realities. In the exercise of this function the whole mind is 
engaged, and in the fulfilment of it the whole mind is satisfied. 
The result, therefore, is not expressible in, so to say, one 
dimension of the mind's reality : this would indeed be the pale 
shade, the lifeless form, which thought is so often held to be. On 
the contrary, the result is as solidly rounded as the mind that has 
created it ; it is diffused with feeling, it consummates activity, 
and also concentrates the intellectual process of the mind. When 
the completest unity is attained by the intellect, it thrills the mind 
with a sense of fulfilment which raises its tone of feeling, gives it 
the consciousness of expanded activity, and deepens its appreci- 
ation of the meaning of reality. It is impossible to separate 
these effects in the final result ; they are transparent to any 
analysis of the concrete mental situation created by the process 
of knowledge. 

This throws the necessary light on the nature of philosophy 
which claims to be the supreme form of the operation of 
knowledge. Philosophy is the way by which we gain the 
deepest consciousness of reality to which the process of 
conception can attain. It is not the only approach to conscious- 
ness of the ultimately real. It is but one amongst these. It is, 
however, supreme in its domain, the region of knowledge, and 
follows there its own conditions and laws. It is a way of 
communing with the supremely real which appeals to and 
satisfies a certain type of mind, though it by no means meets 


the needs of all minds who desire the highest sense of reality. 
Some individuals find in poetry or again in music, the most vivid 
consciousness of the real that their minds crave for. To these 
science and philosophy are but factors which are subordinated, 
and minister, to this consummate appreciation of the world's 
meaning. To such minds " poetry is the breath and finer spirit 
of all knowledge ; ... it is the first and last of all knowledge/' 1 
Other individuals again discover the completest sense of the real 
through the experience of religion, the region of mental life where 
" the human spirit lays aside the burdens of finite existence and 
attains the completest satisfaction and the largest sense of 
freedom . . . For there its consciousness is absolutely free and is 
consciousness in truth because it is consciousness of absolute truth. 
In terms of feeling its state is one of enjoyment, the joy of 
blessedness ; in terms of activity it spends itself in making 
manifest the honour of God and showing forth His excellent 
glory." 2 

It is useless to set aside such ways of gaining the intensest 
consciousness of real, which are in method and form so different 
from philosophy. 3 Nor can the philosopher successfully show 
them to be either inadequate to their claims or inferior to his 
own. For no one but a philosopher would be convinced by 
reasoning on such a subject, even though his reasons were 
apparently unanswerable. Poetry asks no question about its 
own merits, and is therefore unconcerned about the answer. It 
merely smiles at the critic "who lacks the glorious faculty 
assigned to elevate the more than reasoning mind." Religion is 
never tired of saying that the wisdom of this world is little else 

1 Wordsworth, Preface to the Lyrical Ballads. Cf. also Keats' Sleep and Poetry. 

* Hegel, Philosophic d. Religion, Einleitung. 

* There are those to whom the spiritualised fulfilment of the love of man 
and woman gives a consciousness of the real which dissolves the mystery of things 
seen and unseen into the clear daylight of a perfect and completely luminous 
experience. Here vision and reality are so deeply interfused that even the most 
impervious of all distinctions the distinction of personalities disappears in a unity 
of spiritual life which claims to be the final disclosure of the meaning of the world. 
Beside it science and philosophy seem halting and obsequious pedantry, art no 
better than a bridal veil, and religious doctrine an imperfect symbol of this triumphant 
reconciliation of the endeavours of nature and the purposes of the human spirit. 
This experience finds some of its best expression in the literature of the East. 


than foolishness ; and in nothing more so, perhaps, than in trying 
to prove itself divine. No argument will give a man his religious 
peace, and none can take it away. Doubtless the philosopher is 
entitled in the interests of philosophy to examine and determine 
the nature of all objects of all thought, and to consider the 
significance of all forms of experience. This is his way of dis- 
cerning the meaning of the world and satisfying his supreme 
mental need. Religion and art also in their highest interests 
avail themselves of whatever experience and reflection can 
contribute to further their ends. But just as philosophy refuses 
to give way to them, so they refuse to surrender to philosophy 
their claim to be supremely satisfying. And in the face of the 
long history of the varied spiritual achievement of humanity, the 
time is surely past for considering science or philosophy the only 
royal road to an absolute experience. Philosophers may have 
maintained this right to possess the " crown of the life of mind ; " 
and those who could dispute the right have rarely done so, partly 
because they did not profess to understand the achievement of 
the philosophers, and partly perhaps because of an instinctive 
disinclination to associate themselves with philosophers. 

Philosophy, therefore, is but one way of meeting the demand 
of the mind for final satisfaction, the way that is open through 
the avenue of purely intellectual activity. The choice of this 
way is determined by individual capacity, and is a matter of 
selective interest and chance. " The giving of reasons for what 
we believe an instinct " is itself, as it has been put, " also an 
instinct." Instincts we happen to find, or do not happen to find, 
ourselves endowed with. Doubtless " all men have by nature a 
desire to know," but all men Save not the desire to philosophise. 
This is contined to those few whose intellectual instincts are 
developed to the pitch of seeking final answers to final questions, 
forced upon the intellect by the activity of the mind as a reality 
amongst realities. 

Philosophy is then a process of creating through the form of 
thinking a completely satisfying consciousness of reality. It 
may be said to be at once an exhaustive fulfilment of our 
utmost capacity to think or conceive, and also the attainment of 
a heightened consciousness of the world. These two are in- 


separable ultimately, no doubt because thought and the sense of 
reality develop pari passu in experience. 1 We only think when 
we have a content or object to deal with, and the complete 
attainment of what thought pursues, involves at the same time 
the final realisation of the world in terms of thought. We do 
not require to go " outside our thought " to get at the world. 
Our thought evolves in the presence of the world, and the world 
becomes more real to us as it unfolds in terms of thought. The 
individual carries the consciousness of reality with him throughout 
the process of thought ; and if the thinking is satisfied, the real 
ipso facto has yielded up to him all that it means for thought 
The final result is a single experience, which may be expressed 
either as the highest intellectual consciousness of the world, or the 
complete satisfaction of what the mind demands from its 
intellectual activity. 

In this way philosophy occupies a peculiar and unique place 
in the realm of human experience. It meets a special spiritual 
need, and the struggle of the philosopher to satisfy this need is 
justified by the result : the human spirit does secure satisfaction 
from this form of activity. Only so is the effort really worth 
while. The spirit has a firm sense of its own reality, and a fuller 
consciousness of the world in which it lives and strives. 

The business of philosophy is not to " copy " or " reproduce " 
reality. Reality is quite sufficient for itself without the super- 
fluous addition of a copy, however accurate ; and a reproduction 2 

1 No doubt the " relation of thought to reality " may be made a special problem 
of philosophy, just as any other experience may start a problem of philosophy. But 
this is not a problem logically prior to others, for the simple reason that it is a 
particular case of the very problem philosophy seeks to deal with. 

2 The only reproduction which nature admits is one that involves an 
advance to a further stage of being ; it is a reproduction which at the same time 
brings about a new product. If the human mind, whether in science or 
philosophy, has nothing better to do than furnish an abbreviated summary of the 
world, a variety of shorthand "conceptual formulae" of the real, it is, indeed, no 
better than the accidental epiphenomenon which crude materialism has taken it to be. 
Such an unnecessary function might well be a fitting occupation for a fortuitous bye- 
product of cosmic evolution. Whether the copy is a single conception or assumes the 
imposing proportions of a system of conceptions, it can only appear an irrelevancy by 
contrast with the grim struggle of the forces of the world. To spend days and nights 
in the production of such copies, which leave the mind and the real exactly where 



which merely repeats in another language what is good enough 
as it stands seems an obvious waste of time. 

.JXce,are to do justice to the facts, we must regard the human 
mind as having a substantial being of its own, and its activities 
as a fulfilment of its individual life. Philosophy is one way 
through which that life is unfolded and in the result satisfied. 
The achievement of such satisfaction is the attainment of truth so 
far as intellectual activity is concerned. In that sense truth is 
merely the completed outgrowth of the intellectual activity of the 
mind. Truth so understood is certainly not all that the mind in 
its varied life strives after ; by itself truth does not fill the cup of 
life to the full. The mind feels and perceives, it acts and it 
adores ; and for such activities, truth, in the sense just stated, is 
neither relevant nor satisfying. None the less the truth which is 
the outcome of intellectual activity does give the mind, on one 
side of its nature, rest and satisfaction. 1 


From this point of view philosophy is a self-contained attitude 
of the mind with a process and end of its own. And the 
endeavour to obtain such satisfaction is actuated by the same 
kind of force which urges the mind onward in every direction 
which leads to the fulfilment of its individual nature. That force 
is desire. 2 Philosophy is one form of the mind's desire for 
reality, the desire to make itself real or, what comes to the same 

they were to begin with, would be the crowning irony of human experience instead of 
its divine consummation. 

The plausibility of the interpretation of knowledge as a process of copying 
reality seems due to the powerful influence of metaphors drawn from visual per- 
ception. We certainly use language which conveys the impression that in knowing 
we "see" and "observe" reality; and philosophy itself is spoken of as a "con- 
templation " of the real. The erroneous theory that in sight-perception we receive 
impressions or copies of external objects is all that is required to complete the train 
of reflection which leads to the above view of knowledge in general. 

1 We may, if we^choose, regard conceptual activity as reaching only one " form " 
of truth, and treat every state in which the mind is satisfied as a truth of mind. In 
that case there will be truth for perception, truth for volition, and for other activities 
as well. 

Such a use of the term has its advantages, and its obvious disadvantages. 

2 Cp. Aristotle's Metaphysics^ A98o*., irforfs foOputrot rov fititvau opeyovrai (pva-fi : 
also A 1072 26. 


thing, to produce the most vivid consciousness of reality of which 
it is capable. The medium in which it gratifies this passion in 
the case of philosophy is that of thought. 

What form a given philosophy assumes is determined, much 
as in the case of the artist, by the individual interest of the 
philosopher on the one hand, and his social or historical position 
on the other. These two act and react on one another. Particular 
conceptions are in large measure the creation of the social order 
characteristic of mankind ; they are general conditions of the 
intercourse of man dealing with the seen and unseen environment 
of their common lives. The individual thinks as a social being, 
and always has a kind of typical mind in view with which, in his 
reflections he imagines himself in communication. In a sense, it 
may be said, a whole society or a whole civilisation thinks 
through the mind of the philosopher as its representative. 1 At 
the same time the individual has his own peculiar perspective in 
the social system, and this is not strictly transferable to or 
interchangeable with any other. As the result of such a perspec- 
tive each philosopher seeks to satisfy his mind in a distinctive 
way. Hence the variety of philosophical problems and philo- 
sophical theories. 2 Some philosophers are content to arrive 
at a single intuition, or a kind of key conception ; others 
can rest in nothing short of a rounded system which may 
be little more than an intellectual tour de force. One thinker 
may concentrate all his efforts on the problem of human 
knowledge ; another on the foundations of science ; others are 
constantly fascinated by the somewhat eccentric question regard- 
ing the " reality of the external world " ; while others again 
endeavour to slake their thirst for intellectual finality by drink- 
ing from the inexhaustible wells of mental introspection, the 

1 Thus the philosophical views of J. S. Mill, Herbert Spencer, and more recently 
those of Mr. Bosanquet, may fairly be said to express certain tendencies of thought 
and common ideas current in their time. Philosophical theories require a certain 
spiritual climate. This does not prevent, rather it accounts for, each thinker 
developing his special theory with intense conviction of its truth, and indeed of its 
being the whole truth. 

* The subject matter of philosophical reflection may owe more to individual 
interest in certain cases, in other cases to social life, as e.g. modern psychology, which, 
is a peculiar outgrowth of the high self-consciousness of modern societies, 


Tantalus cup of philosophy. Any aspect of reality can create 
the philosophical mood, and give material to the philosopher. 1 
Most philosophers have an unexplored hinterland of reality, 
which remains in many cases a land of promise, of which they 
are content to take possession by faith rather than by knowledge. 
Moreover, the direction, as well as the limit, of a philosopher's 
reflection is fixed as much by social considerations as by 
individual interest. In the abstract, doubtless, a philosopher's 
thinking is and must be "free," that is, he must follow where 
thought leads if he is to satisfy thinking to the uttermost. But 
in fact no philosopher can afford completely to ignore the 
obligations and influences of his fellowship with his kind in the 
society to which he belongs, whose working conceptions he shares, 
and whose language and conceptions he utilises for his ends. 
This social reference guides him, in ways partly conscious partly 
unconscious, not merely in the choice of his subject but in the 
extent to which he pursues it, as well as in the manner in which 
he clothes what he takes to be the truth. 2 

It may be said, perhaps, that these considerations seem 
destructive of the unity of thought, on which philosophers 
have from time to time insisted and which they have sometimes 
endeavoured to express as their common ideal and their collective 
aim. The unity of thought, however, as already stated, is not an 
objective entity working itself into articulate form through the 
mind of the philosopher ; it is a mental function inseparable 
from the personality of the thinker and operating within him in 
the interests of his individual fulfilment. If this seems to imperil 
the historical continuity of philosophical thought, it has at least 
the advantage of securing continual freshness and vitality in the 
pursuit of philosophical truth. It is more important to man that 

1 Hence there can in the nature of the case be no single " method " of 
philosophy. There are only two ways of thinking ; and these are intuition and 
articulate reflection. 

2 It is significant to note that thinking seems to have been most free on great 
subjects at times of social upheaval and transition. 


the product of his efforts should enrich and fulfil his personality 
than that the individual should be a mere channel through which 
an impersonal unity of thought may make itself articulate. It 
is better to make mistakes in finding out the truth for ourselves 
than to be a conscious automatic register of unerring wisdom. 
The reality we seek would lose its fascination if there were no 
chance of error in the search. And the very intensity of our 
interest in the result is in large measure due to the individual 
selection of the way we pursue and the free decision to follow it 
at all costs. Philosophy is no man's duty ; it is something 
better, it is any man's prerogative. The individual point of 
view certainly involves a specific perspective, and therefore is 
necessarily a partial outlook on the whole. But no wise man 
would sacrifice the charm of a perspective even for the sake of a 
minuter appreciation of the details. The " spectator of all time 
and all existence" must accept his limitations. He cannot at 
once see his world from the circumference of his vision and 
from the focus of his perspective ; he cannot enjoy his horizon and 
at the same time wander along Its shores. The need for the 
whole truth, for finality in the search for truth, would not arise 
but for our individual interest in finding satisfaction in it. 

Hence not merely because of the variety of ways in which this 
supreme form of satisfaction maybe sought, but because the very 
purpose of the philosopher is to gain a fresh and a complete 
consciousness of the nature of the real, it is impossible to look 
for positive progress in philosophy. 1 Each philosopher has to 
face anew for himself the problem or problems of philosophy as 
they appeal to him. He can take nothing for granted or as a 
gift from others who have gone before him, even if he wished to 
do so. The philosopher must keep his intellect as detached 
from the achievements of the past as from the assumptions of the 
present. The history of philosophy provides material which he 
uses, not instruction which he follows. The problems of former 
days have to be reconsidered, and the solutions reinterpreted. 
The philosopher certainly learns from his predecessors, but 

1 In a similar way we need not look for progress in poetry. The idea of progress 
seems in fact irrelevant to the nature of poetry. 


mainly by way of suggestion and by discovering how to avoid 
mistaken courses of thought. The absence of real progress in the 
attainment of philosophical truth need be no condemnation of 
philosophy. On the contrary, it may give all the more vitality to 
the spirit of philosophy, and inexhaustible interest in its enduring 
purpose to those to whom philosophy is a mental necessity. 



" Volk und Knecht und Ueherwinder, 
Sic gestehcn /u jeder Zeil 
Hochstes Gluck dcr Krdcnkinder 
Sei nur die Personlichkeit." 


THE current controversy regarding the claims of Science and 
those of the Humanities in a scheme of education rests in the 
long-run on a deep-rooted prejudice or conviction, which both 
parties to the controversy share, that in some way or other the 
aims of science and the aims of humanity are essentially 
opposed. Such a conviction arises from an opposition deeper 
still, one which is as old as Western civilisation the opposition 
between the course of nature and the interests of human life. 
For the sciences, in the ordinarily accepted sense of the term, are 
devoted to the study of outer nature, and their results are held 
to bear the character of the realm to which they refer. Nature 
is outside man, careless of his peculiar concerns, always 
apparently indifferent, sometimes openly hostile, to his ideals 
and his welfare. Science in explaining or interpreting the 
processes of nature seems merely to give good reasons for 
regarding as irremovable the opposition which in practical life 
is in so many ways all too evident. Man is by instinct half 
afraid of nature. The sciences of nature amply confirm his fears. 
Science shows man to be a puppet under the control of forces 
alien to himself. Man can be pitiful ; nature is ruthless in 
undeviating obedience to laws which take no account of man's 
pity or man's purposes. Man claims to be the lord of nature, in 
a sense its most admired and consummate achievement ; science 



recognises no pride of place among the components factors of 
nature, and dissolves prestige into a system of complex elements 
and interrelated aimless agencies. Man's spirit is finely touched 
to the fine issues of beauty and of goodness. In the alembic of 
science beauty is distilled into an arrangement of atoms whose 
outer form, however intoxicating to the human eye, is in every 
sense superficial and of no more significance than the interior 
structure of the composing substance ; while goodness is found to 
be but the last and subtlest expression of the guileful instinct of 
self-preservation which equally, though with unequal success, 
guides the wasp to its victim and the saint to the Holy Grail. 

The question at issue between the Sciences and the Humani- 
ties seems indeed a serious one if in the light of the former man 
is viewed as the most prominent marionette in the mechanism 
of nature, while the latter regard him as the chief hero in the 
drama of the world. Science, doubtless, may claim to be the 
crowning glory of the life of man, the most triumphant fulfilment 
of the powers of his mind. But if humanity must give up its 
hopes and aspirations at the bidding of science, if it draws its 
inspiration from ideals which science either cannot justify or can 
only explain away, the triumphs of science are no compensation 
for the loss of so much that gives vitality to human life ; the 
truths of science become themselves but dust and ashes. 

Unless the outcome of science is the enrichment and fulfilment 
of human life, the diadem which science would place on the brows 
of humanity may be but a mockery, and the crown of man's life 
but a crown of thorns. On the other hand, it seems equally 
evident that, however important man's place may be in the 
scheme of things, unless man pursues his ends along the paths 
of intelligent order, rigorous coherence, and consistent rationality, 
such as science alone can claim to secure, he may find himself 
among the waste places of the world alongside the ape and the 

Is it possible to reconcile these conflicting interests and 
opposing claims of " science " and " humanity" ? I think it will 
be found on analysis that the opposition arises from a 
misconception of the meaning of nature and of the procedure 
of science ; that there is no solid ground for supposing that 


science is anything more than a special channel through which 
the human mind seeks to express its activity ; and that in origin 
character, and aim science is essentially anthropomorphic. 


The apparent opposition between the interests of science and 
those of humanity is due to an initial mistake in the scientist's 
conception of nature. Nature is the general term used to 
designate the object or objects dealt with by the physicist, the 
mathematician, the chemist, and the biologist ; and, for historical 
reasons, the meaning of the term has been mainly influenced 
by the peculiar nuance it receives from the physicist and the 
mathematician. Nature is that which is beyond and independent 
of the individual mind, occupying the outer realm of space, and 
apprehended by the senses of sight, touch, and hearing. The 
aim of science is to investigate and interpret this independent 
realm of existence in such a way that the laws discovered, and 
the scientific truths obtained, will bear the same character of 
independence of the individual mind, and hold good regardless 
of human interests or desires. Man has to " learn from nature," 
must bow before its laws, appear before nature as a vassal or 
servant to hear the commands of a master. 

It is evident, however, that man himself is part of this very 
realm of nature. He occupies space as much as does a grain of 
sand ; every breath he draws proves him to be a part of the 
physical world ; he is an organism amongst other organisms. 
But, if so, he is not independent of nature ; and nature cannot be 
what is independent of him, since he is a part of nature and he 
cannot be independent of himself. Nature cannot be outside 
man, if man is himself one of the beings constituting nature. 
The initial view of nature with which the scientist starts is thus 
transparently absurd. The misconception, or confusion in the 
conception, is so obvious that one can only wonder how it ever 
came to be adopted by a scientist, as it unquestionably has been 
and is still adopted. 

The origin of the error is not difficult to explain. Nature 
as something given to the individual mind is certainly external 


to the individual, and is rightly regarded as outside him : it is 
outside in space. This character of externality to the individual 
is entirely relative to the individual mind ; and nature in this 
sense does not contain the individual mind, for by hypothesis 
nature is outside the individual. When, however, nature in this 
sense is generalised, this relation to the individual is omitted, 
and the limitation in its meaning that nature here does not 
include the individual is forgotten. Nature thus becomes 
what is independent of all individuals whatsoever. The next 
step is simple : since human individuals are also independent 
of one another, nature is said to contain all individuals within 
its sweep. Thus the generalisation of the term nature so as 
to include human individuals, gives the term a meaning precisely 
the opposite of what the term connoted in the first instance. 
For there is no sense in speaking of nature being outside unless 
by contrast to an inside. If nature is both inside and outside at 
once, it is neither the one nor the other exclusively. 

If this procedure is illogical and absurd, we must give up 
the view that nature is something before which man must 
bow in submission, and that the science of nature compels us to 
accept truths which are independent of and indifferent to 
ourselves as human beings. For if we are part of nature, in 
accepting these truths we are admitting truths about ourselves ; 
and it is meaningless to say that we bow and submit to ourselves. 
If, on the other hand, we draw a distinction between human nature 
and outer nature, then this again involves no fateful submission 
on our side ; for the human mind will thus be interpreting another 
form of nature, which is indeed distinct from human nature but 
not necessarily either opposed to man or indifferent to his 

Passing next to the procedure of the scientist pur sang, the 
usual view of how science conducts its operations and interprets 
its results is equally indefensible. In the investigation of nature 
scientifically, the human mind is commonly regarded as a kind 
of still mirror in which the processes of nature are merely 
reflected, and the function of which is just to keep itself clear 
and steady while these processes pass before it. If it fulfils 
this condition, nature will, as the phrase runs, reveal its own 


secrets, and the individual mind will have nothing to do but note 
them carefully and write them down. The scientist, in short, is 
to be a peculiarly made reflector endowed with the powers of a 
stenographer. This is no caricature of the accepted scientific 
procedure in dealing with nature : it has been and still is seriously 

A moment's consideration will suffice to expose the error 
of such a naive and uncritical view. We do not find the laws of 
nature by simply opening our eyes. They are not given to us 
as a gift ; and even in using our eyes we have deliberately to 
exercise the whole mind if we are to make something intelligible 
of outer nature. As Mach puts it in his Science of Mechanics^ 
" A competent view of the world can never be got as a gift ; we 
must acquire it by hard work." What does this mean ? Simply 
that, from the beginning of our investigation of outer nature 
to the very end, the whole energies of the individual mind must 
be engaged to secure what we call the truths of science. These 
truths are products of mental activity and of mental activity 
alone. There is no still mirror set to watch outer nature : the 
mirror is alive, a concentrated focus of spiritual energy, directing 
itself by its own ends and in its own interests. Nature does not 
tell its own story to us : we construct the story of nature in terms 
of our own thought. We build up the truth about nature in the 
sweat of our brow. If necessary we win the kingdom of truth by 
violence ; we dissect, we experiment, we twist and turn the forces 
of nature rather than allow their meaning to escape our grasp. 
Outer nature is certainly in a sense, as we have seen, indifferent 
to our minds ; but it is the business of science to overcome this 
indifference, to woo and win nature into harmony with our 
thoughts. If we have to stoop to nature in the course of our 
investigation, we do not stoop in order to submit and subject 
our minds to it we stoop to conquer. 

This is seen in the very earliest stages of scientific 
investigation. We begin by drawing distinctions amongst the 
facts of outer nature distinctions which mark off range of fact 
from range of fact, and mark off also different elements within 
the same sphere of fact, e.g. atom from molecule, lines from 
points. In actual reality nature contains all its parts and elements 


in inextricable interdependence with one another. The position 
of every grain of sand helps to determine the centre of gravity 
of the earth ; and the mists that gather on the icefields of 
Greenland are in part determined by the vegetation of the 
Tropics. The distinctions and separations we make in the 
world of nature are made for purposes of scientific investigation, 
i.e. in the interests of our own thought and in order to 
facilitate the effective working of our own minds. In that 
sense they are artificial relatively to nature, though they are 
inevitable and necessary for our peculiar kind of intellect. 
The very fact that our own thought compels us later to give up 
these separations in order to acquire a completer view of nature, 
shows how temporary and provisional they are. In thinking 
out the processes of nature, or interpreting nature, it is our 
thought and its ends which determine our procedure from first to 
last. The mind in science works with thoughts ; and it is about 
as true to say that nature dictates to us what our thoughts are to 
be, as to say that the printed page of a book makes our ideas 
what they are. l 

Not merely do scientists begin their investigations by 
making artificial distinctions to suit the ends of their own 
thought, but the conceptions by which they proceed and the 
laws at which they arrive are equally constructions of their own 
minds. This can be illustrated by any chapter from the history 
of science. I do not refer to the obviously animistic and 
theological views which affected and infected early scientific 
thought, even that of the ablest scientific minds ; nor need I 
refer to the residual influences of such primitive thought which 
survive in the formulation of laws of outer nature up to the 
present time. The term " attraction " of particles of matter, 
employed in the formulation of the law of gravitation, and the 
term " affinity " employed in formulating chemical processes, 

1 Not all scientists can accept this, as I know. I once made the above observation 
to a distinguished chemist ; I tried to assure him that in dealing with his elements, 
resolving and combining them, he was really seeking to satisfy the demand of his 
thought all the while. His reply was, " But, how so ? We can photograph them." 
The ndiveti of the remark affords matter for some astonishment : he apparently 
seemed to suppose that somehow he had his elements actually inside his thought, 
or perhaps his thought inside his elements. 


sufficiently indicate the anthropomorphic or human origin of 
these ideas. But in all science, even the most abstract, the 
operation of the specifically human intellect is plainly evident. 
The conceptions of quantity, force, mass, weight, etc. , are not 
given to the mind by outer things, and they do not come out 
of the skies or by special revelation. They are won by toil 
and are deliberately created by the scientific intellect to grasp 
the character of the facts presented to its notice. They are 
manipulated so freely by the same intellect just because they 
are defined for its use according to the laws and conditions 
of intellectual activity. If our intellect were moulded on a 
different plan we should use different concepts, just as, if we had 
more or different senses, we should apprehend the outer world in 
other ways than we do at present. That not even all human 
intellects have the same structure is seen from the fact that 
not all human intellects are capable of grasping the concepts 
employed by science ; and in some sciences only a very few 
intellects can develop the concepts to the highest degree of their 
articulation. It is impossible for some minds to grasp a complex 
differential equation, or even to understand what quaternions are 
all about. Nature does not provide us with such knowledge. It is 
a creation of a certain kind of human energy as much as a work of 
art or a steam-engine. Such knowledge, it is said, can be tested 
and proved by an appeal to the outer world. In certain cases it 
can ; but even so, the very fact that it is, or has to be, " tested," 
shows that it is a human device to begin with. What Poincar6 
says of science in general is unquestionably true, and obviously so 
in the more abstract sciences. "We can only think our thoughts," 
he says, " all the words we use to speak of things only express 

The logical necessity with which the intellect develops its 
concepts, exerts indeed all the apparent compulsion on the mind 
which outer things possess. But this merely means that the 
human intellect has a definite structure with a definite kind of 
function all its own ; and it is in pursuance of the laws of this 
structure, with its corresponding function, that its method of 
procedure secures the necessity characteristic of scientific abstract 
thought. Our minds are so made that they work in one way 


towards logical coherence, and in one way only ; and hence we 
are compelled to accept the result. The concepts of science are 
our mental ways of working ; their laws of connection are the 
method of our mental procedure. Neither the concepts nor their 
logical connection is arbitrary ; but they are both relative to the 
human mind. 

We can put the same view in another way. The processes 
of scientific thinking are to begin with tentative and experi- 
mental. Whether we seek to explain a fact of outer nature or to 
solve a mathematical problem, we try now this direction and now 
that, to see, as we say, how it turns out, or how it " works out." 
Many of our lines of thought lead nowhere ; many are inaccurate 
and have to be discarded ; some are entirely untrue. We go from 
hypothesis or suggestion till we strike the true theory. Now, all 
these tentative efforts surely and without question take place within 
our minds. There are no hypotheses in outer nature. Nature 
works no experiments for us and contains none of our errors. 


If the process of carrying qn our thoughts in this manner is 
entirely our own, if it is guided by the laws of our own intellect 
and directed towards satisfying our minds, we cannot possibly 
maintain that at a certain stage it ceases to be ours and suddenly 
becomes something independent of our minds. If the process 
belongs to our mental procedure, the; result must likewise be our 
own achievement. When the result is false or inaccurate we never 
hesitate to ascribe it to our own thought. But equally, if the 
result is true, it must be the outcome of our thought ; otherwise the 
specific function of the human intellect would be to make mistakes. 
Why should the result of an erroneous process of thought fall 
entirely within our mind, and that of a true process of reasoning 
fall outside it ? Since the condition in both cases is the same, 
the effect must be the same. Once again, therefore, it is evident 
that the concepts and the connections of scientific concepts are 
from first to last nothing but the operations of our human 
intellect, and do not come to us from without. Scientific truth 
is the creation of the scientific mind and not of outer nature, 


This is still further confirmed by the fact that much that has been 
discovered in science has been due to the effort of what can only 
be called individual genius, whether it be the genius which 
consists in a stubborn attempt to master the facts, or that which 
consists in a successful and inspired intuition. For such dis- 
coveries the outer world clearly gives no direct assistance 
whatever. Their source and origin are solely the individual 
human agent. 

The supposition that mathematical science is an exception to 
this general character of all science its relativity to the human 
mind is a mere superstition. The argument usually put forward 
to support this contention is that mathematical truth compels 
such absolute assent from the intellect, and is so universally true 
for all space and all time, that it must be considered independent 
of every individual human mind altogether. The argument in- 
volves a fallacy. It asserts that, because a truth holds for every 
mind, it is therefore independent of all minds. But if a truth holds 
for every mind, this just means that it cannot be independent of 
all minds : it must be the way all minds work when they 
think logically and coherently on the subject. To suppose that, 
because it should hold for every mind, it is therefore independent 
of any given mind, is indeed an accurate statement, for a given 
mind may not yet have understood it ; but what we imply is that, 
if it did understand the truth, the truth would be admitted. The 
supposition that, when a truth holds good independently of a 
given mind, this truth is true independently of all minds whatso- 
ever, is like saying that though Jones is absent from a dinner-party, 
the dinner is none the less good, and indeed is good though 
nobody eats it at all. The peculiar convincingness of mathe- 
matical truth is due to the peculiar character of mathematical 
concepts. They are so abstract, and deal with such universal 
aspects of human experience, that all must accept them. But 
this, so far from proving them to be more than human, only 
shows how completely they are bound up with the very structure 
and life of the human mind. 

The more concrete the objects are with which a science deals, 
the less difficult is it to see how entirely our thinking about such 
objects bears the stamp of our humanity. Thus in biological 


science, which is admittedly one of the most concrete and 
difficult of all the sciences of outer nature, the very clue to the 
mystery of living process has to be sought in what, as human 
beings, we find life to be in our own case. We cannot even 
imagine what the mental life of animals is except from what we 
are pleased to call the analogy of our own mentality. All the 
language used in describing the ways and doings of animals is 
drawn directly from the habits and modes of action of human 
individuals. The conception of evolution arises from, and 
depends ultimately for its meaning on, the idea of human 
progress. The conception of adaptation to environment, so 
familiar in the interpretation of living beings, is partly ethical, 
partly artistic in its origin ; that of division and co-operation of 
functional activity is drawn from the economic order of human 
society. As every one knows, Darwin derived from Malthus' 
study of the relation of population to food supply, the suggestion 
that the whole course of evolution was determined by the 
struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest, both the 
terms, " struggle " and " fittest," being clearly anthropomorphic in 
character. Further illustration of the same human origin of the 
main biological concepts need not be given. 

Again let it be said there is no ground for supposing, 
because these conceptions are derived from human life, that 
they are on that account invalid or even inaccurate. On the 
contrary, it seems self-evident that if we are to interpret life 
we must start from life at its highest, and, for human beings, 
human life is the highest form of life we know. If we wish 
to understand what the human individual really is, we must 
look at him from the point of view of society, where we find 
human life fully expressed. If we wish to know all that a rose 
may be, we shall find what we want in the La France of our 
gardens better than in the dog-rose of the hedgerows. So, to 
understand the elementary forms of life, we rightly take as our 
clue the more complex type of life which man presents. But 
the point of interest for our argument is that the procedure 
of biological science illustrates in a peculiarly striking and 
unmistakable manner the human origin of all scientific con- 
cepts, on which we have been laying stress. In biological 


science the source from which they come can not only not be 
outside us, but is even frankly acknowledged to be that of 
human life. I would urge that, just because this procedure 
is thus inevitable when we are dealing with the most concrete 
order of natural objects, the procedure is the same in the case 
of the other sciences. This is merely concealed by the abstractness 
of their method, but becomes patent to the eye of impartial 


The analysis of the character of the concepts of science 
leads us, then, to but one conclusion : science is through and 
through anthropomorphic. It is, if we care to put it so, a human 
invention. Another and entirely different line of thought leads 
us to the same conclusion. Its importance cannot be sufficiently 
emphasised. We find that the scientific attitude to the world 
is historically but a specific expression of the life of humanity 
as a whole. Science, as we understand it, is an historical 
phenomenon like Mohammedanism or the French Revolution. 
It is only found in certain races of mankind, and is indigenous 
to peoples inhabiting certain circumscribed geographical areas 
of the globe. It is in a very real sense dependent on climatic 
conditions, as well as on racial qualities ; and these two are 
inseparable. It surely gives cause for reflection that the 
scientific spirit was planted and has grown to maturity on 
European soil and indeed only in certain portions of Europe. 
Its domicile seems as much restricted to specific localities as 
a botanical or an animal species. The native habitat of the 
modern scientific spirit has been primarily the middle region 
of Europe, extending from the north-west to the south-east, 
and forming a kind of rough triangle whose apex lies in Italy 
and whose base stretches from the southern shore of the Baltic 
Sea across Scandinavia to Scotland. There are regions outside 
this area in which occasionally science has been in some degree 
found ; but these are either exceptional, or are traceable, 
directly or indirectly, to the influence of the central region of 
Europe. The mood of science finds its peculiar climate in this 



region, 1 meaning by science the deliberate and continuous 
prosecution of the study of the world for the purpose of attaining 
a coherent logical interpretation of facts. The vast continents 
of Asia and Africa and non-Europeanised America have no 
scientific areas. The inhabitants of these non-scientific regions 
have indeed knowledge of their own, and a wisdom of their own ; 
but it is not science. Asia and Africa, especially the former, are 
mainly religious and ethical in their frame of mind, not scientific. 
Science is a creation of the European West. 

This geographical limitation of science is indeed a remark- 
able fact, the importance of which our familiarity with the 
scientific mood and our insularity of mind constantly tend to 
obscure. We talk glibly of science uniting all mankind in 
the bonds of truth. This is a mere academic superstition. 
Laughter will hold people together better than logic. We 
should not forget that millions of human beings have no 
interest in the scientific mood at all, and seem by constitution 
to have no capacity for it. Scientific truth is not their way of 
truth. It merely seems to them a matter of astonishment, a 
curious manifestation of the life of a race strangely different 
from their own. Some individuals among these non-scientific 
peoples may, and do, assimilate the science of the West. But 
experience seems to show that such acquisition is at best a 
mere accomplishment, and leaves the racial structure and 
composition of their minds unaffected. 2 In other words, it 
does not create in them the scientific mood. There is as much 
difference between this assimilation of science and the scientific 
frame of mind as there is between learning the technique of 
dancing on a tight-rope and learning to walk. The non- 
scientific peoples take up science as they put on Western 
clothes. One may change one's clothes, but there is no changing 
the skin. The fact is that the scientific mood arises from a 
peculiar attitude of the mind to the world found amongst 
certain peoples of the globe ; and without this attitude science 
will always appear a curiosity or an irrelevance. The attitude 

1 For a remarkable array of facts to establish this proposition, see De Candolle, 
Histoire des Sciences et des Savants. 

2 Whether Japan will prove an exception to this statement remains to be seen. 


may be shortly described as due to a sense of the detachment 
of man from the world as something alien and external, to a 
sense of the supremacy of his aims over the processes of outer 
nature. This is quite peculiar to certain peoples, and is not 
found in all. In the East, for example, man seems to feel no 
sense of alienation. He seems to feel himself as much a part of 
the universe as a plant is inseparable from its environment. 
So much is this the case, that man's life is felt to be part of 
the very current of the stream of the vaster life of the world. 
He realises his state best when he is absorbed in the larger 
being of the universe. His individual life is literally to him 
no better than a flower of the field. His mind is as a shadow 
produced by his finite substance intercepting the light of the 
world. This profound difference between West and East is 
probably ineradicable ; it is constitutional and climatic, and not 
accidental. It is the cause of the emphasis or over-emphasis 
upon, and predilection for, science in the one case and religion 
in the other. Science is thus but the consequence of a peculiar 
frame of mind which characterises certain Western peoples. It 
is neither universal to humanity nor essential to all mankind. 

It is in a sense but an historical incident in the vaster history 
of the human race. It is a factor, but no more than one factor, 
in the complex system of aims and forces which make up 
human civilisation. Greater than any science or any number 
of sciences, is the stupendous and awe-inspiring spectacle of 
human life on the planet. So limited is science in significance 
that it even requires a certain level of temperature for its 
successful prosecution. It is not for want of leisure that the 
peoples of very warm or very cold climates have not the 
scientific mind. They have leisure in abundance, the leisure 
of the timeless forests or the timeless wastes. It is rather that 
the mental energies will only undertake the peculiar labour of 
impartial investigation of science for its own sake either where 
the equilibrium between man and nature is fairly steady, or 
where the advantage is preponderantly in favour of man's 
supremacy. Where the powers of nature, heat and cold, 
seasonal changes, and the resurgence of nature's forces, over- 
whelm man's life, science is not a possible mood for man at all. 


The human mind merely accepts the situation and becomes 
acclimatised in every sense. 

Science must keep to its peculiar geographical region of the 
globe, if it is to be carried on and if its ends are to be realised. 
Nor need we wonder or complain at this state of affairs. There 
is indeed, we may say, a division of labour amongst the races 
of mankind as there is a division of labour amongst the in- 
dividuals of a society. One race takes over one task, another 
race takes over a different task ; and all combine, more or less 
unconsciously it is true, to fulfil the whole purpose of human 
life on the earth. 

We but exaggerate the importance of our own interests 
and point of view when we imagine that our peculiarly scientific 
turn of mind is the best, or the standard to which all human 
life should aspire. Such an exaggeration is little better than 
the vanity and conceit of insular self-satisfaction. The scientific 
mood is important ; it is not all-important. Even where it is 
prosecuted, it is primarily an attribute of the masculine mind 
rather than of the feminine intelligence. Ordinarily speaking, 
a woman regards the scientific mind with a mixture of good- 
humoured consideration and detached indifference. But no 
sane person would consider or desire the feminine intelligence 
to< be merely a duplicate of the male mind : each is radically 
different from the other, and each is extremely important for 
the realisation of human life as a whole. Nor need we suppose 
that the scientific mind has all the advantages on its side, and 
the non-scientific all the disadvantages. There are advantages 
and disadvantages in the possession of the scientific mood and 
in the prosecution of scientific interests. I need but recall in 
this connection the pathetic regret of Darwin that his over- 
cultivation of the scientific attitude destroyed his power of 
appreciation of beauty in art and literature. In the same con- 
nection it is worth observing how the over-indulgence in the 
luxuries of science seems to destroy a man's balance of judgment 
in other realms of experience, practical and religious. So 
much is this recognised, that the very name " scientific expert " 
is almost a by-word for general intellectual incompetence. 
Specialisation, so essential to science, distorts the mind to the 


verge of indiscretion and unreliability ; it produces cloistered 
lives that have lost touch with the complex richness of full 

This brings us to the last question I should like to consider : 
how are we to connect the claims of science with those of 
humanity, so as to do justice to both ? I have indicated some 
reasons for maintaining that they cannot be really opposed. From 
these it should be evident that since science is itself one of 
the activities of mankind, the so-called opposition of science to 
humanity as such is in principle absurd. What part, then, does 
science play amongst the activities that make up human life ? 
What, in a word, is the relation of the end of science to other 
ends which man pursues ? 

We are accustomed to distinguish three primary ends in 
human life, under which all its various aims can be grouped. 
These are truth, beauty, and goodness. The distinction is 
convenient and useful, if it does not lead us to cut these ends 
off from one another. We shall avoid this mistake if we look 
upon them as but different ways in which man seeks to realise 
the unity of his individual life, the primary colours which make 
up the divine light which illumines his experience, the main 
avenues of approach to supreme self-fulfilment and to supreme 
reality. They refer to the three component factors of his mental 
constitution. The fulfilment of the claims of his intellect is the 
attainment of "truth" ; the fulfilment of the life of feeling is 
attainment of " beauty " ; the fulfilment of will is the accomplish- 
ment of " goodness." They deal with the three aspects of the 
world with which he is concerned the aspect of order, the aspect 
of sensibility (including sensation and emotion), and the aspect 
of sociality. The articulate consciousness of unity in the form of 
order is what we mean by truth ; the articulate consciousness of 
unity in the form of sensibility is beauty ; that of unity in the 
form of sociality is goodness. The deliberate and exclusive 
pursuit of truth creates Science and Philosophy ; the deliberate 
and exclusive pursuit of beauty creates Art and Literature ; the 


deliberate and exclusive pursuit of goodness creates Morality and 
Social Institutions. 

The important point to grasp is that these ends, separately 
and together, are ways in which the individual spirit of man 
realises itself, and thus maintains its place in the universe. In 
Wordsworth's language, they are ways in which man discovers 

" How exquisitely the individual Mind 

(And the progressive powers perhaps no less 
Of the whole species) to the external World 
Is fitted : and how exquisitely too 
Theme this but little heard of among men 
The external World is fitted to the Mind." 

They are none of them merely accidental expressions of his 
life ; they are all necessary if he is to be himself and become 
aware of what his life consists in. They are pursued for his own 
sake in the first instance, because man in the first instance lives 
to himself. But this does not mean that he makes the world 
what he likes. The life of man is as much a part of the con- 
stitution of things as the existence of beings independent of and 
different from him. Human nature is as real as any other kind of 
nature, and has laws and conditions of its own. Man's business 
is to fulfil human nature and to follow the ends by which that is 
realised. The ends whi^h regulate his life dictate the course he 
has to take. In obeying them he is thus realising his place in 
the world ; and in living to himself in this way he finds he is 
living for the whole world at the same time. To be himself 
completely he has to become conscious of the order of the 
world, conscious of its beauty, conscious of goodness. He under- 
takes the journey of his life pursuing his own ends, follows 
whither they lead him, and, in following them, finds, like Saul, 
that he has gone out apparently on a casual errand and is led 
by his destiny into his kingdom a kingdom which is his own 
and is more than his own, a kingdom whose foundations were 
laid at the dawn of time and whose towers catch the white 
radiance of eternity. 

These ends are all necessary if man is to rise to the full 
measure of his stature ; and they are all inseparable from one 
another and from the integral life of the individual. We get 


the richest form of human life where all are pursued in perfect 
freedom, and where one is not allowed to interfere with the 
other. We do not find all peoples and nations on the earth 
cultivating these ends. Most peoples lay greatest stress on the 
requirements of social fellowship, and treat with comparative or 
complete neglect one or both of the other two. The one most 
generally ignored, as we have said, is that of truth for truth's 
sake, the cultivation of the scientific spirit. There are, perhaps, 
few communities of men in which we do not find a certain 
development of artistic interest, sometimes indeed to a high 
degree, though the conditions of their social life may be very 
simple. In other words, in most communities we find two of 
these human ends pursued ; a very few pursue all three ; in 
fewer still are all three ends pursued with equal disinterested- 
ness and freedom. We may with justice find here, perhaps, the 
best criterion by which to arrange the various civilisations 
amongst mankind on a scale of value. Those communities in 
which these ends have found freest expression seem to be the 
highest ; those in which any one is hampered or excluded will 
be lower according to the extent to which this takes place. 
Hence it is that the excessive development of science is not an 
effective criterion of a high civilisation. The cultivation of the 
scientific spirit is not alone a guarantee of a high level of 
humanity a conclusion which has been painfully brought 
home to us at the present stage of human history. In the same 
way the intensive cultivation of the arts is not enough to bring 
human life to fruition. It is found, indeed, to be consistent with 
ignorance, narrowness, and even the degradation of humanity. 
Ancient Greek society is not an unfair illustration of this type 
of civilisation. Similarly, exclusive emphasis on mere goodness 
does not bring out all the resources which make man's existence 
precious, powerful, and secure. It too often leads to the im- 
poverishment of life physically and mentally ; it encourages 
obscurantism and ignorance ; while the neglect of the cultivation 
of beauty commits the spirit of man to the acceptance of ugliness, 
gloom, and joylessness. The ancient Hebrew society is an 
historical illustration of this type. The adoption of the point of 
view of this society by many of the inhabitants of Europe has 


in the past produced, as every one knows, results which can only 
be regarded as baneful and disastrous to their intercourse with 
their fellow-countrymen. 

What we cannot too carefully observe is that the cultivation 
of all three, even to a slight degree, tends not only to their mutual 
furtherance of each other, but to the enrichment of human life 
in its entirety. The cultivation of goodness is intensified if the 
intellect is liberated into the ways of truth ; the cultivation of 
truth becomes deeper, more inspired and inspiring, when it 
increases the sense of community and fellowship between 
human beings when, in other words, it goes hand in hand with 
goodness. In Bacon's princely language, " It is heaven upon 
earth when the mind moves in charity, trusts in Providence, and 
turns upon the poles of truth." Similarly, the pursuit of the 
beautiful in art, whether it be poetry and music, painting, or 
sculpture, acquires an added value when it adorns, refines, and 
dignifies the life of a community ; and conversely, goodness 
becomes gracious and winsome, richer in substance and dearer to 
men, when human life is arrayed in the garment of joy which is 
woven at the loom of art. 

We need not therefore suppose that these three ends are 
in principle independent, though not necessarily of equal 
importance. Neither in practice nor in principle is their 
independence defensible. When these ends are pursued in 
independence, the result invariably is that one is taken as the 
only real end ; the others become looked on as secondary or of 
no account at all. We find such exaggerations constantly made 
in practice, and they are in every case the mere mental j con- 
sequence of special predilection and excessive interest. Thus 
many scientists and some philosophers say that truth is all in all, 
and everything else a mere means or a mere incident in life. In 
the light of facts, and after what has been said, this will be seen 
to be the contention of the mere partisan. The artist, again, is 
apt to hold that beauty is all in all that, in Keats's language, 
" beauty is truth, truth beauty that is all ye know on earth 
and all ye need to know " ; or, in Wordsworth's more carefully 
formulated statement, " poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all 
knowledge, the impassioned expression which is in the counte- 


nance of all science." These are intelligible but obvious ac- 
centuations of a special bias. Neither Keats nor Wordsworth 
knew much about science. Similarly, the enthusiast for human 
welfare declares that mere goodness is everything, that the only 
end of life is to love one's neighbour. Here, once more, we have 
another form of exaggeration. For love to be at its best, men 
must have the best kind of neighbours. 

In principle, however, there is no room for such extreme 
views. Each is not independent of the other. Nor are all 
of the same value. What seems first in importance (though 
again let me say not exclusively important) is sociality whose 
controlling end is goodness. This is first because all the ends 
which man pursues are in the long run for the sake of man, and 
man's fellowship with his kind is the governing interest of the 
human species. From this all his interests proceed, to this they 
must ultimately converge. The human species is more concerned 
with its own maintenance and furtherance than with anything 
else whatsoever. This is not merely an instinct ; it is in the 
nature of the case ; for all other kinds of beings exist by 
the same condition, whether they be planets or plants or 

This complete socialisation of human life should not be con- 
ceived in any narrow sense. It must not be interpreted in a 
form which makes so-called practice and practical considerations 
predominant over so-called theoretical or ideal considerations. 
Practice and ideal aims, whether in science or art, both lead and 
contribute to the same result, as indeed is plain to any careful 
observation of the facts of life. Human beings are brought into 
fellowship, not merely on the basis of practical action, but on the 
basis of community of thought and feeling. Indeed, as history 
shows, even erroneous theories and convictions can hold people 
together and intensify their living interest in one another. The 
earlier theories of the origin of man's life and of the central 
position of the earth in the planetary system, sufficiently illustrate 
this point. Similarly, mistaken practical enthusiasms can bind 
human beings into a common fellowship which seems to magnify 
human welfare, as the pathetic history of the Crusades well 
shows. If false theory and mistaken practical aims accomplish 


so much, how much more is it certain that the pursuit of verifi- 
able truth, of ideal beauty, and genuinely real practical ends will 
further and increase the fellowship of man with his kind. All 
men's ends whatsoever, practical and ideal if we must make 
this questionable distinction, contribute in the long run to the 
socialisation of human life. In the realisation of this result they 
may find their highest fruition ; in this achievement all the 
efforts of individuals find their amplest reward. If we may 
recast the somewhat ornate language of an earlier epoch we 
might say that man's chief end is to make human life glorious 
through beauty, truth, and love, and to enjoy this consummation 
all his days an end which is great without being imposing, and 
accessible without being any the less magnificent. 


It may be worth while to note the bearing of the ideas which 
have been sketched on certain practical problems which confront 
us at the present time. 

For one thing, we can see at once the error of making 
an opposition between the requirements of practical social life and 
the interests and aims of science. It is as false to take immediate 
practical social needs as a standard to test the value of science 
to human life as it would be to try to determine the truth of a 
biological law or a proposition in geometry by an appeal to the 
sense of justice between man and man. If we say it is 
ridiculous to make goodness a criterion of scientific truth, it is 
equally absurd to regard immediate social welfare as a test of 
the worth of science to humanity. If we take long views, and 
maintain a wider outlook on human life, we cannot fail to see 
that all science in the long run conduces to human welfare in 
the full sense. Indeed, the history of the relation of scientific 
discovery to the betterment of social conditions amply shows 
how inseparably social life and science are connected, how closely 
even immediate practical needs and scientific pursuits are bound 
up. It is safe to say that some of the most difficult problems 
which face the social reformer at the present time would be in a 
great measure solved if we could intellectually penetrate further 


into the secrets of electro-magnetism, the life of the cell, or 
chemical energy. 

The supposed cleavage between so-called practical social 
needs on the one hand, and scientific pursuits unfettered by con- 
siderations of pence or prejudice on the other, has been one of 
the most painful misunderstandings from which human life has 
suffered in the past and still suffers to some extent. 

It is an opposition which has produced very futile opinions 
and most frequent quarrels. And the quarrel has not been all 
on one side. For it takes two to make a quarrel as it takes two 
to make love ; and scientists have often stated their case as 
wrongly as the so-called practical people. Scientists sometimes 
speak as if the improvement of society depended on the attain- 
ment of correct scientific conclusions, as if society should be 
controlled by scientific experts, and as if life existed mainly 
or solely for the advancement of the ideal interests of science. 
Such claims are quite extravagant. They provide a curious 
parallel to the mediaeval conception of human society, according 
to which society was held to exist solely to further the ideal 
interests of religion. Science does not by itself improve man 
as a social being ; this can only be done by the cultivation of 
good-will between man and man. And why should society be 
directed or controlled by scientists any more than by artists ? 
Society no more exists simply to produce the means for scientific 
research and to establish a corporation of scientific bureaucrats, 
than science can only be justified if it gives us more or better 
food supplies, or brings us quicker from one place to another. 
Truth must be pursued for its own sake, and untrammelled by 
social prejudice or social ambition, if its full human value is to be 
secured ; and until we are prepared to pay for it and to pursue 
it in this sense, we are traitors to our own best interests and 
depriving ourselves of the full heritage of humanity. Both to 
scientists and to those who care for practical social welfare 
we would offer Plato's counsel, " let each pursue his own business 
if he would seek the best interests of all." 

Similarly again, the supposed opposition between the Sciences 
and the Humanities is one of the most obstinate of popular 
fallacies. Science, as we have seen, is itself a creation of humanity 


alone, and exists solely for humanity. Science properly under- 
stood is literally one of the Humanities, one of the factors that 
express, raise, and enrich human life. We too narrowly use the 
term " Humanities " when we restrict its application to the 
literatures which have been created by the artistic imagination ; 
and to apply the term solely to the literatures of Greece and 
Rome is largely an abuse of language. Literature alone does 
not give all that is best in the arts which have dignified 
and adorned humanity. Sculpture, music, and painting have 
expressed man's sense of the beautiful quite as much as, and to 
some peoples even more than, literature. It is one of the great 
defects of our higher education that this has not been properly 
realised and appreciated. In few universities is there instruction 
in Music and Fine Art. Certainly literature and the other arts, 
along with history, in a peculiar way deal with human life : they 
are in a sense all about man primarily or entirely, and moreover 
about man at his best as well as at his worst. The cultivation of 
the Humanities in this wide sense is thus in a special way 
humanising, i.e. it expands our acquaintance with human beings, 
their peculiar aims and their peculiar interests. But they deal 
with only certain phases of the life of humanity. Literature, e.g., 
uses as its material, and seeks to articulate, man's emotional 
responses to nature and to his fellows ; history, the forms and 
course of his political and social life. These, however, do not 
exhaust man's human nature or his human concerns. The 
cultivation of these studies is therefore not all that man requires 
if he is to know himself, and if he is to be himself. Exclusive 
devotion to them, or excessive emphasis upon them, narrows the 
outlook on man, and narrows human life ; and these two go 
together. Man has more to think about than himself. He has to 
think about the world around him. Doubtless the "proper 
study of mankind is man," or at any rate the study of man is a 
very proper study. But man is only man in the full sense when 
he knows something more than himself; for he only finds himself 
when he becomes conscious of the world in which he lives and 
moves and has his being. In science he becomes aware of the 
resources of his own nature quite as much as of the objects he 
investigates. He finds the rationality for which his spirit craves. 


In a word, the scientific study of the world and of man himself 
draws out his humanity humanises him. To speak of a conflict 
between the Sciences and the Humanities is thus as ridiculous 
as to speak of a conflict between the earth and the moon. Both 
are parts of the same stellar system, both are creatures of the 
same solar body. 

It follows that an education which is solely indebted to the 
Humanities, or solely indebted to science, is neither complete nor 
satisfactory. For education is surely the realisation of the 
potencies of human life to the fullest extent of which the in- 
dividual is capable. An individual may have taken all science 
to be his province, and still be an uneducated man. He may have 
absorbed the literature and the history of mankind, and still feel 
himself a stranger in a world which should be his home and not 
his hiding-place. A scientific mind unilluminated with the light 
of art is little better than an intellectual factory ; an artistic mind 
unenlightened by scientific thought may be an articulate picture- 
gallery. Neither the one nor the other alone can produce a truly 
educated mind. Nor indeed, for that matter, can the two 
together bring out all that the spirit of man requires. Science 
and art, truth and beauty, detached from the cultivation of man's 
living relation to his fellows, are the wine of life without the 
guests at the feast. We have probably all known, or known 
about, first-class scientists and scholars who were little better 
than social curiosities ; or men of first-rate artistic sensibilities 
who were undesirable aliens in their own community. Unless art 
gives grace and refinement to the human character, it has failed 
of its complete purpose : unless science makes the whole life 
intelligent and tolerant, it has not succeeded in its aim : unless 
the one adds sweetness and the other adds light to the spirit of 
goodness, neither has fully justified its existence. 



"The size of a man's understanding might always be justly measured by his 
mirth . ' ' Joh nson . 

"To weep is to make less the depth of grief." Henry VI. 

WHEN we reflect that laughter and tears have accompanied the 
life of man from the remotest date of his recorded history, it 
seems curious that observers of mankind have given so little 
attention to these twin eruptions of human emotion. Doubtless 
this is partly due to their transitory and apparently incidental 
character. They are so capricious in their occurrence that they 
seem hardly to call for analysis. They seem also so individual 
and variable as to make analysis into general terms impossible. 
Laughter has, indeed, secured a certain amount of interest. 
Aristotle and Hobbes made passing reference to it, and Bain 
brought his acute mind to bear on the topic, while in more recent 
times there can be found a modest list of writers who have dealt 
with the subject. But tearful emotion has been almost totally 
neglected. And no one seems to have treated the two together 
as complementary emotional expressions, which they obviously 
are. In what follows an attempt will be made to bring out the 
real meaning of each in the light of their mutual contrasts. 

I shall deal with these emotions as conscious states which are 
at once body and mind. Mind is strictly inseparable from the 
bodily aspects which are the " expression of the emotions, 1 ' l in 
Darwin's sense of the term. But their significance and certainly 
their main interest in the economy of human nature lie primarily 
in the mental process which they involve. 

1 On the nature of the physical expression, see note at end. 



Regarding the mental process, the question is : Into what 
conscious factors can we resolve the consciousness of the laughable 
on the one hand, and the tearful on the other ? 

The most general characteristic of the normal consciousness 
of the ludicrous is that there is always some situation presented 
before the mind ; and on this situation some judgment is 
formed, in consequence of which a laugh ensues. We must be 
aware of something to laugh at, before laughter can arise. If 
laughter arises which, on analysis, does not reveal this most 
general of all conditions, we say the laughter is meaningless, 
absurd, hysterical, and so forth. All such laughter we condemn 
or pity. We condemn it because it does not fit into the context 
of anyone's experience, not even that of the person laughing, and 
therefore cannot be tolerated ; or we pity it because such laughter 
has the appearance of the unconsciously irrational, the person 
laughing is under the sway of non-voluntary forces beyond his 
own control, and no one can enjoy when there is no object of 
enjoyment. This condition is all-important and most significant. 
Laughter does not normally arise like the feeling of high spirits, 
or like a vague desire or craving, or again, like a fit of nervous- 
ness. In the laugh of the child, or the grown-up, we have a distinct, 
though it may be a very short, interval between the consciousness 
of a certain kind of situation and the judgment passed upon it, 
as the result of which the laugh takes place. These factors are 
so complicated, and imply such a relatively high level of con- 
sciousness, that it is not surprising to find many thinkers maintain- 
ing that we only find laughter in the proper sense when there are 
evidences of marked conscious rationality of behaviour. 

When a given situation is presented to us, the first attitude, 
which we adopt towards it is simply to apprehend what it contains 
It is so much matter-of-fact, and, to begin with, nothing more 
than this. Our initial interest in it is, as indeed we often say, a 
" matter-of-fact interest." At this stage there is no difference 
between our apprehension of a situation which turns out to be 
amusing, and our way of apprehending any other fact whatsoever, 
e.g. a flower, the size of a house, or the law of gravitation. 


Whether we merely take note of an isolated fact or develop our 
first view of it into an elaborate system of connected thought 
which we call "understanding" it, the general mental attitude 
towards it is essentially the same we are merely concerned to 
grasp the meaning of what is before us, the internal connection 
of its parts, and its external connections with other facts. 

Now, when our interest in a situation is solely of this character 
laughter never arises. We merely understand, and this attitude is 
complete in itself, so complete that it even brings a pleasure all its 
own. Hence people whose interest in things is limited to under- 
standing them, proverbially display no sense of the ludicrous. 
By contrast we call them "serious-minded" or " over-serious/' 
Excessive concentration on this attitude tends indeed to destroy 
the spirit of laughter altogether. This is in part the explanation 
of the unmerited jibe at the Scotchman's incapacity to see a joke : 
he seems too anxious to understand. For the like reason it is 
both difficult and dangerous, as every one has learned, to 
" explain " a joke : for, what we try to explain to the dull-witted 
is the nature of the situation, and the very process of explaining 
tends to turn his attention upon the mere understanding of the 
object before him ; and this has in itself no place for laughter at 
all. Often the fun of the situation lies in a side issue suggested 
by the situation ; and to explain the case may blot out all 
suggestion of side issues, or take the edge off all interest in 
them. The malicious, the stupid, and the laughter-hating are fully 
alive to this effect of mere understanding, and well know how 
to turn the tables on the jester and spoil his fun by demanding 
a fuller explanation. When this deeper explanation is seriously 
given, the basis of laughter is often undermined in the process 
and the jester humiliated by the general collapse of the laughable 
situation. 1 

1 This effect of the mere understanding of a situation has given rise to the curious 
view that laughter is due to imperfect or partial understanding of things, and hence 
that the more we understand the less we are able to laugh. Goethe, betraying 
perhaps a national defect of mind, held this opinion, and expressed it in the somewhat 
pedantic form "the man of 'understanding' finds almost everything laughable, the 
man of * reason ' almost nothing." No doubt it is true that the better we understand 
the less superficial our laughter, and perhaps on that account the more rarely we 
laugh. But it is obvious from experience that superficial laughter is but the 


Apprehending a situation, then, does not by itself create 
laughter, but is, in general, a precondition of it. Apprehending, 
in fact, prepares the ground for another way of looking at the 
situation. This further interest, as distinct from understanding, 
we call appreciation. The peculiar character of this mental 
attitude towards the situation is that we look at it in the light of 
an end which it seeks to fulfil. Both in principle and in every- 
day experience we draw a sharp distinction between apprehend- 
ing a thing and appreciating it, whether the object be a man's 
action, a poem, or a picture. We " understand " it if we know 
how its parts are connected and the laws that control its being : 
we " appreciate " it when we relate it to some end, and we express 
this appreciation when we judge its value. Now it may be said 
with fair accuracy that all our ways of looking at things fall under 
one or other of these two classes : apprehending, or understand- 
ing, and appreciating. Since laughter, as we have seen, does not 
issue upon mere understanding, it may be due to an operation 
of the process of appreciation. And this, we shall try to show, 
seems actually the mental cause of the state of laughter. 


The points to consider are : (i) What kind of end is involved 
in the constitution of a laughable situation ? (2) In what sort of 
relation to the end do the facts in the situation stand when 
laughter is created ? 

As regards the first point the answer is fairly simple. 
Whether we take the ceaseless varying ends of everyday life, 
the ends pursued in morality and social life, the ends pursued by 
the scientist, the religious man, the artist in all these domains 
alike, laughter can be, and is, created. The spirit of laughter is 

correlation of superficial understanding, and that profound understanding fortunately 
is often accompanied by a keener appreciation of the ludicrous. The wisest minds 
have in most cases a sombre awareness of the pathos underlying the ludicrous in the 
world ; and their laughter may be as the ebullition of a well of tears. As the poet 
puts it 

" Our sincerest laughter 
With some pain is fraught." 



no respecter of places, persons, or things. The very gods are 
supposed to indulge in this display of emotion, both when they 
have dealings with one another, and more especially in their 
dealings with mankind. The highest moods of experience, 
indeed, like the pursuit of the ends of religion, have perhaps 
been responsible for adding more to the fund of human laughter 
than any other form of experience. For there we find a play of 
imagination and a free manipulation of human purposes, which 
constantly put us into the hands of the imp of laughter, and 
place us at its mercy. As we are accustomed to say, everything 
has its humorous as well as its serious side, and even in the 
direst situations and most sombre occasions we find men breaking 
the bounds of their constraint in a chuckle of spiritual freedom. 
Every one must have felt at times a difficulty in strangling a 
laugh at some part of the procedure of a solemn public festival ; 
and even the pomp and circumstance of decease seems singularly 
fertile in provoking a smile. 

Thus the range of ends in connection with which laughter 
may be invoked, is strictly unlimited. There is no single end 
which peculiarly calls forth laughter. But the same end may 
or may not produce laughter according to circumstances. What, 
then, are the circumstances ? In other words, in what relation 
must things stand to an end, in order to give rise to a situation 
which we appreciate as laughable ? Formulated in this way the 
question is not so difficult as it appears on a first look. 

There are two ways in which facts may stand in relation to an 
end in view. They may be so carefully planned, and arranged 
in such an order, that the end is successfully reached, and reached 
even with a kind of steady necessity from step to step in the 
process. When this happens, even though the success be only 
approximate, we never laugh. We praise or admire, or just 
accept the achievement. We may feel happy in the result, but 
this happiness does not provoke laughter ; it is rather akin to the 
sense of well-being, and may provoke an articulate outburst like 
a shout, hurrah, etc. Or, again, we may feel angry or dis- 
appointed, and may blame or denounce the result, if the end thus 
successfully achieved is one which destroys some previously 
accepted scheme of good. This resentment or disappointment 


is inconsistent with laughter ; and such resentment would only 
be called forth if the result had been planned and to some 
extent actually achieved. If no such result were attained, if no 
such plan were accomplished, we should not feel resentment 

But, on the other hand, the end may be neither attained nor 
renounced. The relation between things and the end in view may 
be incoherent, disconnected, in all degrees from sheer irrelevance 
up to partial but more or less haphazard co-ordination with a 
view to the result ; and this relation may be temporary or 
permanent. In these cases, no praise or blame is attached, for 
an end is neither accomplished nor defeated. The end remains 
secure and safe despite the incoherence of the process ; the 
incoherence throws the end into relief and even emphasises its 
importance. We are, therefore, neither happy nor miserable. 
Since, however, the facts and the end stand in an objective, real, 
relation to one another and constitute a single situation, we 
must, and do, take up some mental attitude towards it. We can 
and do appreciate the situation as it stands. Now, it is in such 
cases that we laugh. And here, it seems to me, we have the 
essential nature of the situation which causes laughter, as 
illustration will abundantly show. 

Laughter arises when the character or process of an object, 
which is considered to refer to an end, real or supposed, is judged 
to be partially or wholly incongruent or incoherent with the end 
in view. It is important to note that the end must not be given 
up but must still hold good in spite of the incongruity ; and also 
that the object laughed at must not give way and must be none 
the worse for its incoherence with the end. The relation of the 
object or its process to the end must in fact subsist without either 
factor disappearing or being overthrown ; the object must point 
in the direction of the end, the end must continue to claim a 
control over the object. If, for any reason, we lose sight of 
either of these factors, the laughter is at once dissipated. 

A situation, we thus see, is rendered laughable not simply in 
virtue of incongruity, as so many have said. It is a specific kind 
of incongruity, the persistent incongruity between an object or 
its process and the end at which it certainly but vainly aims, or 


seems to aim. Every kind of incongruity does not give rise to 
laughter, as Bain long ago pointed out, and as in fact is fairly 
obvious on reflection. When two ideas contradict one another, 
we have incongruity ; but that does not cause laughter, but 
irritation or disappointme nt. When two billiard balls collide, we 
have contrariety of motion and incongruity of position ; but here 
again there is no laughter. When a man is overwhelmed by 
disaster after struggling against great odds, we have also 
incongruity ; but this is the reverse of laughable, as we shall see. 
Mere contrast, again, is not the essence of the situation, as 
others have supposed. Contrast undoubtedly there is. But the 
world is full of contrasts which evoke no laughter day and 
night, light and darkness ; and many contrasts lead to tears. _J[t 
is the particular kind of contrast between the incongruous 
process and the end sought, which starts the laughter. The 
element of contrast is partly the source of the surprise which 
is felt in many kinds of laughable situations, though not in all. 
The contrast may suddenly appear at a certain point in the 
incongruous relation of the process to the end, and the recog- 
nition of this startles us, so to say, into the consciousness of the 
situation which we feel to be laughable. The contrast need not 
be sudden, and laughter still results ; or we may watch the 
contrast and continue to laugh. But the abrupt realisation of 
the contrast of the kind described gives a vivid interest to the 
laughter ; though no doubt in some cases the very suddenness of 
it may tend to check laughter until we have made quite sure it 
is the sort of contrast which we appreciate as laughable. Mere 
suddenness of contrast may take us unawares and call out 
laughter which jars, or makes us ashamed of ourselves, when we 
find out that the relation has not been properly appreciated. 


Let us take some typical illustrations to give concreteness 
to this statement of the nature of laughter. Almost every child 
seems moved to laughter at the spectacle of a malicious wind 
playing havoc with a dandy's dignity and carrying his hat by 
leaps and bounds far down the street, with its owner in hasty 


pursuit. Here the orderly connection between the object and 
the wearer, which is required to maintain the dandy's dignity, 
has been ruthlessly broken ; the object makes off on its own 
account, regardless of its place in the purposes of his life ; the 
dandy insists on the relation between himself and his hat being 
kept up, while the hat as obviously disowns the relationship. 
Neither can get rid of the other, and yet both are for the time 
being incongruent with each other, the dandy's dignity with the 
present position and doings of the hat, the hat with the present 
feelings of the dandy. Observe, again, that the important agent 
in the situation the dandy is not really injured in the process, 
he is only temporarily discomfited. Substitute a frail old man 
for the dandy, and the situation ceases to be laughable to all 
but the ill-disposed, and calls forth other emotions, such as pity. 

Acts unintentionally incongruous with the end in view afford 
excellent illustrations of the laughable. A beginner's efforts to 
perform any feat of skill, or any task requiring delicacy of 
adjustment and long training, whether it be golf, swimming, 
skating, making a first speech in public, exercising social savoir 
faire, or talking a foreign language these afford subjects of 
laughter to all, and they illustrate so clearly this incongruity of 
the details of the process with the end aimed at that we need 
hardly stop to deal with them. 

But not merely do the incongruities that arise from want of 
skill in its many forms produce laughter. The possession of 
skill may be directed to the creation of situations which cause 
laughter ; and, in fact, the capacity to do so is often a sign of real 
mastery, as we all know. Here we have an end in mind, and 
create incongruous material to stand in relation to it. The 
incongruity can be, and because invented generally is, quite 
as startling, unexpected and novel as in the unintentionally 
laughable acts of the unskilled. Such skill is most frequently 
exercised in the manipulation of ideas and in the manipulation 
of words which symbolise ideas. These are doubtless not 
strictly separable, and sometimes are consciously combined. 
The most familiar and best type of the former (the manipulation 
of ideas) is what we call wit, and consists in suggesting a truth 
either by bringing out a similarity between incongruous ideas or 


incongruous differences within the same general idea. When 
Sydney Smith remarked to his vestry, who were finding 
difficulties in the way of paving with wood the streets round a 
certain church, that the thing could be quite well done if the 
members of the vestry would only put their heads together, we 
have a good illustration of the first form of wit. The most 
frequent and best known -type of the use of words to create 
laughter is what is called the "pun, 11 which is a legitimate 
enough source of laughter, especially if well done, and should 
not be condemned as bad wit, since it does not profess to be wit 
at all. The setting of amusing conundrums is a common form 
of this artificial creation of laughter out of ideas and words. 
Incongruous ideas may also be used to bring about a definite 
practical result, and then we have neither wit nor pun but a 
form of practical joke. This may be malicious ; or it may be 
agreeable. Dean Swift, being annoyed by a crowd of his 
admiring parishioners collected on his doorstep to watch an 
eclipse, sent out his servant with a handbell to announce that by 
the order of the Dean of St. Patrick's the eclipse was postponed : 
the crowd dispersed in laughter. 

Again, we have a notable case of laughter in pompous 
pretentiousness and affectation of speech and behaviour. The 
behaviour of the gentleman bourgeois or the awe-inspiring 
office-boy creates laughter because the end to be attained stands 
confronted with an agent whose mental and physical structure or 
attainments are totally incongruous with the demands made upon 
him. He therefore does not merely come short of what is wanted, 
which might be merely dull ; he does the inconsequent act and 
the irrelevant thing, which frustrates the attainment of the end 
to which he nevertheless clings so strongly as even to imagine 
that it is really embodied in his incongruous action. 1 

1 Take, again, a very different case : that of the laughter which sometimes 
accompanies joy. The joy is due to a sudden and unusually heightened sense of well- 
being, a " sudden glory," arising from the attainment of an end either altogether 
unexpected or preceded by a period of restraint and mental tension. The laughter, 
which sometimes accompanies the mood, arises not from the mere removal of restraint, 
but from our becoming aware, almost simultaneously, of the discontinuity, often the 
sheer irrelevance, between the preceding experience and the end which has suddenly 
been made our own, and which, therefore, must have been waiting securely ail the 


Of all kinds of situations those of social life afford the richest 
field of the permanently laughable. The reason is that here we 
have on the one hand well-known and well-established ends 
towards which human life not merely is directed, but ought to be 
directed, and on the other hand an extremely complex range of 
detail which is drawn from nature and human nature, and is 
placed in subordination to those social ends. The possibility of 
the laughter here is in consequence almost endless, so much so 
that it often seems to many from first to last a long jest. The 
laughter may be directed upon isolated momentary situations and 
actions, such as the compromising position of a Mr. Pickwick ; 
or the complexity of a situation may be so very great that it 
takes days, months, and even years to reveal itself in all the 
extent of its laughable character. We sometimes use the word 
comedy to cover both the isolated instances and the long sequence 
of events in which the situation is realised : sometimes we use 
the word comedy for the second alone. This, however, is a mere 
matter of words. There is no difference in principle between the 
two as laughter-producing situations ; for obviously the time it 
takes to develop the incongruity, from which the laugh arises, 
does not in the least affect the nature of the situation itself. 
Moreover, the long sequence of events comprising a single 
laughable situation may, and generally does, give rise in its 
course to a succession of laughable situations ; the parts may be 
in themselves laughable, as well as the whole. Whether, then, 
the situation is isolated and momentary, or drawn out over a 
long time, the same principle operates in the emotion of the 
laughter to which the situation gives rise. We have a social end 
of some sort on the one side, and, on the other, human actions 
performed which are incongruous with the ends accepted as 
standards of these actions. 

The incongruity arises from three chief sources, in the case of 
the socially comic, and these largely determine the different kinds 
of comedy. It may arise from nature itself ; it may arise through 
the designed or undesigned acts of individuals ; and it may also 
arise from the free inter-play of many persons living together, 

while. The laughter of children on legaining their liberty after school hours is a 
bimple case ol this kind. 


each following his or her own individual purposes, which inevitably 
intersect and thwart each other at some points, since the in- 
dividuals coexist in the same field of social life and yet are all 
separate. How nature upsets the calculations of the cleverest of 
men we all know ; how its laws and processes capriciously hold 
sway over men's purposes and their fulfilment is only too evident, 
whether it be the winds and the waves that bring Ferdinand on 
his way to his Miranda, or FalstafFs struggle with the over- 
grown proportions on which nature planned his structure. 
The complicated interplay of human purposes in every 
Comedy of Errors makes merry havoc with the best intentions 
of the actors. When each of these sources of incongruity 
operates alone it is quite enough to thwart the efforts of the 
agent to reach his ends ; when all work together, the wonder is 
not that comedy arises so often, but that any purpose is ever 
seriously and successfully carried out at all in social life. 

It must be carefully observed that in all comic situations the 
end must never be abandoned or overthrown if the situation is to 
be, and to remain, laughable ; nor must the effort to reach it 
through incongruous or incoherent acts be given up ; nor, finally, 
must the person of the agent or agents be really disabled in the 
process. If any of those qualifications is absent, laughter ceases. 
There is always in the best comedy a deferred triumph of the end 
in view and of the person pursuing the end. The immediate 
realisation of the end and the indefinite postponement of its 
realisation (which is practically equivalent to defeat) are both 
hostile to the spirit of laughter. For the end is important, at 
least to the individual, and generally to social life as a whole. It 
will, therefore, not be set aside merely because the process of 
reaching it is so inadequate and confused. On the other hand, 
should the end be carried out with uninterrupted success, there is 
no room for laughter. Time and entanglement must intervene 
between the end and the details in which fulfilment is sought, if a 
situation for laughter is to be created. Sometimes the entangle- 
ment may be so serious for the agent that he can laugh only 
when the end has triumphed, and when on looking backwards he 
sees the end standing out in contrast to the incongruity of the 
process. Joyous laughter is a case of this kind, as is also 


the laughter that arises after a state of long tension or 

The social purposes controlling individual lives have varying 
degrees of importance ; some are trivial or accidental, some 
fundamental or essential to human well-being. Hence we have 
comic situations which are merely on the surface of social life, 
others which go down to its very depths. These last give rise to 
the higher dramatic forms of comedy ; the former are the source 
of farce of every description. The characteristic of higher comic 
drama is that it seizes on vital ends of social welfare, the main- 
tenance of family greatness, the love of social power and glory, 
the deep passions of sex affinity, and similar factors. It shows 
them controlling the acts and thoughts of individuals, sometimes 
half consciously, sometimes with clear intention, and yet frustrated 
by the inadequacy of judgment, the complexity of circumstances, 
the diversities of personal interest in the issues involved. The 
whole dramatic scheme seems a contest of fate with chance for 
the mastery of social ends ; fate consisting of purposes which are, 
or should be, or must be somehow, realised ; chance consisting of 
the incalculable succession of isolated events without which there 
is no realisation possible or worth pursuing. We watch the 
conflict with lively expectation of the happy issue, and are 
amused at the various steps, for their own sake, and because we 
are sure neither side will give way in the long run : the man will 
have his mate and all will be well. That is the essence of the 
higher comic drama the clear consciousness before the mind, at 
least of the dramatist, that there is the final triumph of the good 
end in the most complex of situations. 


A comic drama reveals a plan all unknown to the actors. 
It is not this plan as completed which creates the laughter ; for 
the plan requires that the end be realised, and is based on a 
rational insight into the coherent structure of social life. The 
laughter arises from the incongruity displayed by the actors in 
their efforts and actions to secure an unfulfilled end, or one 
attained almost in spite of their efforts. Hence while laughable 


situations are the material of comic drama, and while comic drama 
inevitably creates laughter, the creation of laughter is not the sole 
purpose of a comic drama. When, as the curtain falls, the actors 
shake hands, fall on each other's necks, or go off to church, we 
feel satisfied that the right thing has happened ; we should not 
have been satisfied with the drama if this had not happened. But, 
if there has been much laughter in bringing all this about, the 
result, though correct, is apt to produce a reaction. It may 
perhaps seem familiar, and we give a clap of general approval of 
the skill in bringing about the conclusion we have taken for 
granted all the while : or the plan, which has led to the issue, may 
seem so complete that the sheer human joy at the triumph of 
good over such obstacles may overwhelm us in tears. Comic 
drama, in short, is a planned arrangement of laughable situations, 
which is constructed on the assumption that the good end must 
finally triumph over all obstacles and fulfil or satisfy the agent 
not simply, and certainly not always, in the sense of giving him 
all he wants or saving him from all pain, but in the sense that 
his life as a member of a given society finds the real good it 
desires when the end is attained. 

Herein lies the difference between the point of view of comic 
drama and that of morality. The comic drama takes for granted 
that the good end will inevitably triumph over all interruptions ; 
and reveals this by selecting a well-established and what may be 
called a perfectly safe, conventional, social good, which has long 
had control over the life of a society. Such a principle is so 
secure in its grip that it can be relied upon almost to play with 
the individual wills and events which seem to interrupt its 
fulfilment, and it will work itself out to a happy issue through all 
waywardness, with a kind of irresistible necessity. The moral 
point of view, on the other hand, is inward, something more than 
the merely conventional and well-established routine of social 
welfare ; it has its eye on an ideal or a good above the present, 
and better than it, and in the light of which it judges the actual. 
Its face is towards the better and the best ; it praises and blames, 
and allows no routine or social customs to stand in its way. So far 
from allowing itself to be under the sway of even social necessity, 
it demands man's free choice and free judgment at all costs. 


It looks to the future, not to the past, and bends the present in 
that direction. It therefore leaves nothing to chance and never 
supposes chance will work out the best. All this is different from 
the dramatic attitude. A comic drama never teaches or preaches 
intentionally. A moral agent cannot leave morality to the mercy 
of chance. The dramatist is more confident in his moral beliefs ; 
the moral agent more strenuous in his conduct of life. A 
dramatist can afford to create a laugh at the expense of morality, 
for he is sure it will succeed in the long run. Morality wants the 
good done now ; and the pith of moral energy would be paralysed 
if the moral agent felt anything but the immediate compulsion 
of high seriousness. When a moral agent uses the resource 
of laughter for his purposes, he does so through mockery and 
satire ; and then the laughter is directed not upon the good and 
the virtuous, but upon the bad and the vicious. 

To the comic dramatist, the moral life is material which he 
uses to work up into a plan of social existence, a plan which he 
sees to be controlling the apparently rambling and disconnected 
actions of men ; to the moral agent, there is no such plan, and no 
order in life except such as he makes by his own voluntary acts. 
Hence we often find the best comic dramas, e.g. those of Moliere, 
appearing when a social life has reached a highly organised level 
of intensive development and carries itself on by its own 
momentum in spite of, and through, the free play of the individual 
lives of men and women. 

When we reflect that it is in the treatment of the deeper and 
more universal social ends that we get the best comic drama, we 
can understand why it is that such dramas make a universal 
appeal to readers or observers of every nation, A Chinaman can 
laugh with Aristophanes, with Moliere, with Shakespeare, because 
those fundamental social ends, whose operation is portrayed in the 
higher drama, are ends which control the life of developed social 
man everywhere. Dickens can make a successful appeal in 
Tokio as well as in London, for the same reason. 


The different kinds of laughter, which socially laughable 
situations create, are due both to the character of the ends we 


have in mind, and the degree of incongruity in the process of 
pursuing them. We distinguish between what we call good and 
bad laughter. We say some things should be laughed at, and 
other things should not ; meaning thereby, not that there is a 
moral code in laughter, but that the judgment of appreciation, 
from which, we saw, the laugh starts, may be accurate and 
inaccurate in its operation, may be wise or foolish, much in the 
same way that a judgment of a work of art may be sound or 
unsound. Again, since the laugh is always spontaneously the 
outcome of the individual's appreciation of a situation, and as 
unprepared for as a cry of pain, it is quite true to say that a man's 
laugh betrays the kind of man he is ; the laugh, in fact, often 
betrays the man to himself as well as to others. It is also true 
to say, as Goethe does, that nothing shows the character of men 
more than what they find laughable, if we mean by that state- 
ment to refer to the laughter directed upon the ends of social life, 
good or bad. But it is not true, if we mean to refer to all 
laughter ; for laughter is not the outcome of character, but of a 
judgment upon a certain kind of incongruity ; and only in so 
far as a man's character may affect this judgment is the statement 
of importance. 

The good and the evil ends are equally able to start laughter, 
and to some minds the indecent seems peculiarly able to excite 
it Rabelaisian laughter and the laughter of the Contes drola- 
tiques always make a strong appeal to a certain type of mind, 
especially that type which lives on extreme or abstract levels of 
experience. This is what we may expect from the nature of the 
case. There is no greater contrast than that between the high 
and the low, and nothing seems more incongruous. Certainly 
nothing can so easily give rise to the incongruous as the natural 
conditions of man's higher spiritual ends. They cannot be 
always ignored or despised : and yet they do not always or 
generally fit into the higher purposes. In such cases laughter to 
some minds seems inevitable. 

So much does individuality count that even the same 
person will not always find himself able to laugh at the same 
situation, even though this be essentially ludicrous. Laughter 
varies from individual to individual, and with the state of 


mind of an individual at a given time. The judgment 
of appreciation is thus sharply different from the judgment of 
understanding. The truth about a thing once established will 
always seem true to the same mind, and, for that matter, to all 
minds who understand it. But the laughable in a situation has 
not this quality. Its universality does not mean that we 
will always laugh ; but that the situation may be expected to 
create laughter. This expectation is, however, sufficiently well 
grounded to justify us in stating to one another a laughable 
situation, in constructing a comedy, and in creating situations to 
provoke laughter. Whether we succeed must depend on the 
chance of finding the hearing ear and the appreciating heart. 
This we cannot rely upon. 1 Hence the wise man's remark, "A 
jest's prosperity lies in the ear of him who hears it, not in the 
tongue of him who tells it." Hence, too, when a jester laughs at 
the situation as he is portraying it to us, he almost invariably 
spoils his jest, not simply because this tends to interrupt the 
listener's attention, but because he is forestalling the spon- 
taneous appreciation of his listener and makes this but an 
echo of his own. The jester assumes too much, and, so to say, 
invades the listener's individual right of private judgment of the 
case, to which no independent-minded listener will submit. The 
rudeness of the jester thus destroys the virtue of the jest 

The best kind of laughter, however, is held to be that in 
which all can join ; and it is held to be the best just on that 
account. The more a laugh is restricted to one or a few in- 
dividuals, the more it tends to be depreciated. That seems the 
only standard by which we test healthy and unhealthy, real and 
false laughter ; and the test is clearly a social test. The bitter 
laugh, the cynical laugh, the hard laugh, etc., is not encouraged, 
because it arises from some special personal interest. The man 
who can only laugh at others' expense and cannot join the laugh 
at his own expense, is suspect. Healthy laughter rests on a 
judgment of an actual objective situation, and is always detached 
from personal bias. Hence it is difficult for most people to 

1 It lias been remarked by a distinguished actor, that it is only possible to perform 
the same piece night after night because different audiences take up the points of the 
play in different ways. 


laugh at themselves ; as one writer has put it, the nearer a 
situation affects ourselves the less we are inclined to laugh at it. 
In general, it is true, a situation qiust be remote from our own 
interest to make it possible for us to enjoy laughter. It is 
obvious, however, that the social standard of what is laughable 
will vary from society to society, and from time to time in the 
same society. The things which our forefathers took seriously 
become objects of laughter to their successors, and situations 
which created laughter in them seem often dull or offensive to 

Laughter is not less keen because it is conventional. For 
much laughter is the result of social education, imitation, and 
habit. And this must necessarily be so because of the inherently 
social nature of our lives. We find a curious corroboration of 
this feature of laughter in the fact that the mere observation of 
the facial expression of a laughing person will be found in many 
cases to set up, by imitative sympathy, the corresponding facial 
expression in the observers, and thus force the laugh from them 
almost before they are aware of the source of the laughter. This 
can be seen any day in an audience listening to a comedian on 
the stage. Laughter, as we say, is contagious or infectious. 

There is another aspect of the social side of laughter to 
which it is worth while referring. The laughter arising from the 
appreciation of a given situation implies, as was said, that the 
end is assured and holds its own against the incongruity in 
the process of arriving at it, and perhaps in the long run may 
turn this incongruity to good account. Such an assurance may 
be tentative or very strong. When tentative we have the timid, 
hesitating, or nervous laugh ; when strong, the burst or peal of 
unrestrained laughter. Now, the assurance gains enormously 
through social intercourse. If it is shared by other individuals, 
it does not merely gain in intensity for each individual, but the 
sharing of it acts as a bond of closer fellowship between the 
individuals. A joint assurance thus plays a great part in enrich- 
ing social intercourse. The situation itself seems more laughable 
just because laughed at by several individuals. Hence it is that 
we do not merely enjoy a laugh better which is shared, but we 
enjoy the society of those who can laugh with us, for their society 


strengthens our judgment of appreciation. This accounts largely 
for the curious experience that very few care to laugh when they 
are quite alone, still fewer to laugh alone in a company. Let any 
one tell a funny story to himself, and note the effect. If we find 
ourselves laughing when we are alone, we feel either that we 
must try to find somebody to enjoy the fun with us, or else the 
echo of our own laughter tends to sound weird and ghostlike, as 
if we overheard ourselves, or detected ourselves off our guard, or 
saw ourselves turned inside out. Again, to laugh alone in a 
company is not merely a breach of decorum ; it is a proclamation 
that our judgment is not ratified by the common intelligence of 
the group in which for the time being we find ourselves. It is an 
insult to their intelligence, or a condemnation of our own. 

On the other hand, the effect of this socialising tendency of 
laughter is that we do not care to laugh with those in whose 
society, for any reason, we do not care to continue to be. No 
upper servant will allow himself or herself to laugh freely in the 
company of a servant of lower standing. The laughter is always 
condescending on the one side, and restrained or servile on the 
other. Similarly, no master or mistress cares even to enjoy the 
same kind of laughable situations as his or her servant. We 
object to a judge laughing with the man in the dock ; or the 
officer with the private. Laughter so breaks down the restraints 
of normal personal life that the free laughter of master and 
servant together would, so to say, fuse them and imperil the well 
recognised lines of demarcation which are really necessary to 
keep up the social relationship between them. On so slight a 
thread does the safety of public and private dignity depend ! 
Because all rigid distinctions of privilege and person melt before 
the flame of laughter, one of the readiest ways, as we all know, 
of overcoming awkward situations in social life is to create a 
laugh. This at once reduces or raises human beings to their 
common humanity, and so smooths away the lines of separation 
for the time being. 

Since laughter has this levelling and socialising influence, it is 
plain at once that the essence of laughter cannot lie, as some 
have held, e.g. Aristotle and Bain after him, in a consciousness of 
superiority on the part of the person laughing, and of inferiority 


or degradation on the part of the person laughed at. This is so 
obviously inadequate, after what has been said, that I need not 
discuss it at length. Some kinds of laughter involve distinctions 
of this kind. But they do not cover all possible situations that 
are laughable even in social life. The familiar instance of a man 
joining in the laugh against himself makes nonsense of the theory. 
We laugh at things, as well as at persons, and there is no mean- 
ing in saying that the person laughing is superior to the thing he 
laughs at. It would be as true, though equally one-sided, to 
maintain that laughter reduces the person laughing to the level 
of the object laughed at Laughter neither belittles nor magnifies 
the person laughing or the object of laughter. The theory rests 
on a confusion between detachment from a situation, which is 
certainly necessary to free laughter, and superiority to the 
situation, which is quite another matter. 

A theory, akin to this, is that which declares that we can only 
laugh at little things, small matters, or relatively unimportant 
situations, and that laughter reduces great things to small pro- 
portions. Such a theory touches the mere surface of the situation, 
and confounds lightness of heart with littleness of value. We 
can laugh at all things, small and great ; for the laugh is not the 
result of a calculation of weight or of importance, but of the sense 
of incongruity of process with end in view, whatever the process 
be, and whatever the end be. 


I come now to the mental process involved in the state of 
weeping. For the analysis of this we have already to some 
extent prepared the way. It, too, presupposes a consciousness 
of some situation before us, owing to the nature of which weeping 
arises. But the mere understanding of the situation is not what 
creates the tearful mood ; in some cases, indeed, understanding 
may arrest the flow of tears. Many tears, like much laughter, 
are due to one-sided and often superficial understanding of a 
situation. Hence we cry more in childhood than in maturer 
years. But tears are not the prerogative of the young, and no 
amount of experience can get rid of them. As Goethe puts it : 


" The man perhaps a hero seems 

Who stifles tears in sorrow deep, 
But if in grief of soul he yearns, 
God grant him power to weep." 

And again, 

" \Vho never ate his bread in tears, 

Who never spent the midnight hours 
Upon his couch in grief and fears, 

He knows ye not, ye Heavenly Powers." 

Understanding, then, does not of itself create tears, nor does 
complete understanding prevent them. They arise, like laughter, 
from an appreciation of a situation of a certain kind. There is 
some discordance in a process : we judge the situation to be of 
this nature and we judge it in the light of an end. But while in the 
case of laughter the end holds out securely against the incongruity 
of the process of reaching it and remains to the last undefeated, 
in the case of tears the end always is, in fact or in imagination, 
defeated, and is overthrown by some process that has proved 
definitely hostile to its preservation. But it is not the mere defeat 
of the end that is the essence of the situation : for an end may be 
frustrated without tears thereby arising. The loss of an end 
may spur us on to new effort to reach it ; we may blame ourselves 
for its loss, and in consequence resolve to try again. We do not 
weep in such cases : we regard the loss as temporary, and desire 
starts afresh in pursuit. Or again, the end may be finally defeated 
and we may accept the fact with indifference, turning away to 
new ends to be attained in other directions. In this case also 
tears do not arise. It is when the end is admitted as finally lost 
and yet is allowed still to control the current of our desire to 
possess it, that tears begin to flow. And this situation arises 
where the process which brought about the overthrow of our end 
is recognised as fatefully incongruous with the cherished object of 
our desire. The incongruity is essential, because this alone can 
account for, and even justify, the continuation of our desire in 
spite of defeat ; and the supreme value of our end to us throws 
into relief the discordant character of the process at the mercy of 
which it has been placed. Where the end lost is all of a piece 
with the process which has brought about the result, we recognise 



no incongruity, and in consequence there are no tears. Similarly, 
when the good lost is seen from a wider or another point of view 
to be retained in a fuller sense as part of a completer good, the 
tears are again arrested, because the incongruity is no longer felt. 
Thus, it is the recognition of the sharp discontinuity between the 
course of nature and the sudden disappearance of the life long 
precious to us, that starts the tears of sorrow over the departed. 
If we come to see that the good life we valued was bound up 
with the process of nature by whose gradual operation the life 
has been terminated, the tears are arrested. This is more easy in 
the case of those who have reached the full term of years, than 
in the case of the comparatively young. Hence grief for the latter 
is more poignant than' in the case of the former. Or again, if we 
come to see that the life lost, even though young, after all enters 
into a completer life which endures beyond the changing course 
of things, griefs anguish is largely assuaged. This last point is 
admirably illustrated in the movement of Shelley's thought in 
Adonais. The overwhelming grief which heaven and earth are 
called upon to share fills the mind of the poet only so long as 
his thought dwells upon the profound discontinuity between the 
frailty of nature's process and the precious good that has gone 
from the world. When, however, the poet recognises that the 
life that is fled may yet retain its dominion in a fuller reality, the 
sorrow passes away and he sings almost in joy 

"He lives, he wakes 'tis Death is dead, not he ; 
Mourn not for Adonais. 

lie is a portion of the loveliness 
Which once he made more lovely." 

In most, if not all cases of tears, the end lost is one we have 
strongly desired personally. In order to feel the loss we must have 
felt the object to be a great good. 1 And the intensity of our grief is 
often accentuated because of the sense of the defeat and of the 
futility of the effort spent in striving for the end. 

There are two secondary influences which tend to increase the 
pain of the loss and to open wider the gates of sorrow. One is the 

1 This is so even where, as in the case of children, the good may seem to a 
maturer judgment to have been imaginary or trifling. 


sense of our impotence in the face of an incongruous process 
which has our ends at its mercy and over which we cannot exert 
any control. The other is the overshadowing of our whole scheme 
of good by the actual loss of one element. Our whole good 
is correspondingly diminished, is lowered in value, and the 
energy of life is brought down to a poorer level. The influence 
of each of these varies greatly in different cases and with 
different people ; but they are each present to some extent in 
most cases. 

These seem the essential elements in the situation in which 
tearful emotion occurs. Incongruity or discontinuity between the 
end, which has been finally frustrated, and the process that led 
up to the result, is involved in the situation that gives rise to tears. 
The incongruity must be real or imagined as real, just as the 
personal loss must be real or imagined as real, before tears 
come. We may prove to be mistaken on these points, but we 
are not aware of being mistaken while the tears last. Hence the 
seriousness of childhood's tears, and also the facility of allaying 
them, owing to the frequency of error of judgment in the inex- 
perienced. At the same time, the good lost must still dominate 
our desire, if tears are to arise. Without this we do not have the 
shock of arrestment in our pursuit of our end, which is a marked 
peculiarity of the tearful emotion. The end continues to hold our 
desire in spite of the recognition of its final loss. 


Sometimes the process or the materials for obtaining the end 
lie outside ourselves in the course of nature, or in the actions of 
other wills than our own. We watch these from the outside and 
await a much desired issue. When failure of our desired end 
comes, we are stricken, and our very helplessness adds bitterness 
to the tears ; we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes the past process 
of bringing about the frustrated end was partly or wholly in our 
own control. When this happens we are filled with regret which, 
if accompanied by self-blame, intensifies the emotion over the 
defeat of our purpose. Hence, when people weep for their sins 
or their wrong-doings, it is not because they blame themselves 


that they cry ; it is because the ends of goodness have been 
frustrated by their own actions, and this frustration is their loss : 
their blaming of themselves is a complication which blends with 
the regret, and by its influence heightens the feeling of loss of what 
is good. Thus, as we say, the tears of a penitent are really the 
beginnings of a reformation of character ; for it is the sense of a 
loss of good that produces the flow of tears. This cannot take 
place unless he is to some extent aware of the good lost, and to 
be aware of good is the beginning of a better life. On the other 
hand, if a man weeps at the frustration of his evil ends, as is quite 
possible, he is in a fair way to be a captain of the powers of evil, 
for he has thereby indicated that evil is his good ; for him no re- 
formation is possible. If, again, a man weeps over the evil he 
has deliberately done and would do again deliberately in order to 
accomplish some end he thinks to be a good one e.g. the Kaiser's 
tears over the destruction of Louvain we say that such a person 
is on the borders of lunacy, or is indulging in artificially created 
or " crocodile " tears. 

These, then, are the main types of situation the appreciation 
of which causes tears : the situation where the process and 
material for attaining a desired end were outside our control, and 
that where they were at least in some degree under our control. In 
both, the end has moulded the direction of our desire, and given 
it a set tendency which remains in us after, and in spite of, the 
actual and accepted defeat of the purpose. If we could put this 
desire aside at once when defeat takes place, we should never 
weep. It is because we do not or cannot put it aside that we 
are constrained to shed tears constrained, because the momentum 
of the initial tendency of our desire being suddenly arrested 
without the desire being abandoned, the mental shock must 
seek some outlet, and our judgment of the case find expression. 
It expresses itself in the flow of tears. 

The tears, though constrained, are quite spontaneous. Some- 
times their expression affords relief to mental tension, by slightly 
directing attention from the situation to the tears which it has 
produced. Often in children we find that attention to the tears 
may become so absorbing that they cease to cry. In other cases, 
again, tears are apt to turn the mind back to their cause, and the 


knowledge of the effect adds its influence to the knowledge of 
the cause and increases the flow of tears. That explains how 
children, and even older people, can " work themselves up " into 
a so-called paroxysm of weeping. 

Yet, in general, the tears are drawn reluctantly from the 
individual, because they arise through a check to the trend of his 
activity, through a thwarted desiring tendency ; and the individual 
does not accept this state without reluctance. The situations 
involved always imply a fait accompli. The end actually is 
frustrated, at least to all appearance if not in reality, before tears 
flow. If a person weeps before the issue in point of fact takes 
place, it is because the issue has been anticipated, and the 
imagination of the frustrated end starts in tears. If this occurs 
when the process is under the person's control, as in the case of 
a child over a difficult lesson, a boy in a fight, or a lover in 
pursuit of his heart's desire, the situation is apt to create 
irritation or amusement in the spectator : irritation, since the 
tears anticipate an issue which the agent might by effort 
prevent ; amusement, since the end being still effective (for the 
agent pursues it) there is transparent incongruity between the 
process the agent is adopting and the end which still holds its 
own over his efforts. We never weep over a situation which is 
really regarded as undecided. There is thus a sharp contrast 
between laughter and tears. For in laughter the end is secure 
though the issue is in the balance : in tears the issue is settled, 
for the end must have been in fact or in imagination frustrated 
before tears flow, and when the end is frustrated the process 
towards it has ceased to exist. We therefore weep only over 
what is regarded as past, never over what may be in the future. 
But we do not weep over the past merely as what is past ; if so, 
we should never be done weeping. It is the past which has 
frustrated ends enduring still within our present desire, that starts 
the tears. It is the past in its bearing on our present desire that 
is of importance in tears ; and desire is always a present ex- 
perience. Thus we find that as the past fades away from us it 
gradually ceases to trouble the waters of our sorrow ; for the 
ends which the past frustrated gradually lose their appeal to our 
desire. Their interest diminishes through repeated experience of 


their inefficacy. New ends arise which are effective and so replace 
the old. The old ends themselves disappear into the past ; they 
become ends that were, not ends that are desired. Their very 
memory becomes altered for us. And so the past no longer joins 
with present desire in a situation that causes tears. We may 
even be amused at what we formerly wept over ; or the tearful 
situations of former days may be seen through a perspective in 
which " the thought of our past years may bring perpetual 

It is because the situation causing tears involves a finished 
result that in the emotional state of weeping the individual has a 
sense of resignation as to a kind of fate against which his desire 
beats in vain. The acquiescence is, doubtless, a matter of degree, 
and may be very reluctant ; but it is there. Tears of rebellion 
are an extreme illustration of reluctant resignation, the rebellion 
being due to an attempt to believe the end to be still possible in 
spite of its actual defeat. This sense of fatefulness in the situation, 
because it is finished, is the point of contact, as we shall presently 
see, between the tearful situation in the proper sense and tragedy 
in the strict dramatic sense. 


The end which has been frustrated in the tearful situation is in 
the first instance an end affecting our own personal welfare in some 
form or other. To begin with, we do not weep for other people's 
losses, but for our own, and only with developed social conscious- 
ness can we so assimilate ourselves to the situations in which 
other people find themselves as to weep for or with them. 1 Even 
then, it is by imaginatively regarding their situation as our own 
that we do weep ; partly too, especially in the case of children, it 
is sometimes the result of a sympathetic imitative reproduction 
of the physical conditions of tears. Thus the range of tears is 
much more restricted than the range of laughter. It is in fact 
confined to situations affecting personal welfare, directly or 

1 Tears shed over the fate of pet animals is an extension of the .same social 
consciousness. The fate of wild animals never seems to call foith this decree of 


indirectly, our own individual welfare being of chief concern. We 
do not take up a detached spectacular attitude towards such 
situations. For the essence of the situation involves the tendency 
of our own desire in the direction of the end frustrated, and the 
arrestment of our own activity in that direction consequent on 
this frustration. Unless we feel this, we either do not cry, or we 
start artificial tears, i.e. simulate the tearful state ; and every one 
regards this as hypocritical. The nearer persons stand to our- 
selves in intimacy, the more readily are we able to weep in 
sympathy for them and with them. The further away they are 
the more difficult it is to do so. It was hardly possible for us to 
weep for German sufferers in the late war ; it was not even easy for 
the sympathetic to weep for Belgians ; it was perfectly easy to do 
so for the afflicted at home. There is thus an individual 
insularity about tears that contrasts strongly with the intensely 
social character of laughter. The more solitary the grief, in 
fact, the more llie tears flow ; to weep in sympathy, or to have 
others weep in sympathy together with us, mitigates the bitter- 
ness of tears. Individuals in sorrow and tears prefer to be alone, 
to go into seclusion, or hide in a corner. Each heart alone 
knows its own bitterness. An assembly of weeping men and 
women is difficult to keep together ; it has in some cases, e.g. in 
the East, an artificial air. People who are massed together tend 
to give each other energy and strength, and this is opposed to the 
tearful mood. It is thus not surprising that the honest outspoken 
Sterne, on reading out the text " It is better to go into the house 
of weeping than the house of feasting," began his sermon by 
bluntly saying, " That I deny." People, of course, may and do 
weep together quite genuinely, but that is only when they each 
have an individual situation to weep over. Even then, and where 
it is a genuine group of mourners, we find that some of those 
who join with the group in a common orgy of tears are apt to 
become suddenly aware of a certain unreality in the proceedings, 
and to break out into suppressed laughter. With this essential 
isolation of the individual in the tearful mood is associated the 
feeling that tears mean weakness, and no one cares to reveal 
weakness in a company. On the other hand, again, the very 
solitude of tears, especially when they affect the individual 


profoundly, often compel him, in default of the support of his 
fellowmen, to fall back on the refuge of his religious life. 

The ends, the defeat of which causes tears, are limited to the 
range of personal welfare, but within these limits we find that the 
number of ends with which tears may be associated is very con- 
siderable. In early life especially, when every end pursued 
seems important, the loss of any end that is much desired may 
bring about tears. That is because in early life the standard of 
individual values has not been definitely set up, and everything 
aimed at seems equally significant. There is no differentiation 
between important and unimportant, accidental and vital. This 
only comes with experience and with the perspective which 
mature experience affords. A child will cry at the privation of 
anything it wants very much. Savages, again, the children of 
civilisation, are often found to weep abundantly for quite slight 
causes, like the New Zealand chief who cried because his cloak 
was soiled. Later on, when a truer sense of proportion is 
obtained, only the ends which concern permanent human welfare 
can, when lost, superinduce a flow of tears. Even of these only 
a very few will affect some individuals in this way, such as the 
loss of the intimate associations or associates that make human 
life really precious or even possible at all. In the case of a 
certain number of persons, mainly men, no loss seems able to 
move them to tears. This is not strictly because they do not 
regard any loss as important. The reason is largely social ; it is 
looked upon as unmanly to indulge in tears, and at all costs a 
man must maintain his manhood with his fellows and in his own 
eyes. Tears are then considered the refuge of a feminine nature. 
But while this view is fairly common, both among civilised and 
uncivilised races, it is by no means universal. Most men succumb 
at some time or other without being considered unmanly. It is 
a matter of degree, and varies in extent and in its occasion with 
racial characteristics and national custom. 1 It takes a good deal 
to make an Englishman cry, less to make a Scotchman, but not 
so much to make a Frenchman weep. 

1 Thus it is the custom in a certain primitive tribe to express welcome by 
shedding tears (see above, p. 140, note). 



While the ends involved in the tearful situation are primarily 
ends affecting personal welfare, there is an easy mental transi- 
tion from weeping at the loss of one's own individual ends 
to weeping at the loss of those of another individual. This is a 
most interesting complication of the social consciousness. We 
find, for example, that when people weep for those who are dead 
and gone, they do so, or at least express themselves, as if they 
were shedding tears for the loss which the other individual has 
sustained. 1 Strictly speaking, it is because the ends of the 
other have been so closely identified with ours that we fail to 
distinguish the two, and assign the cause of the tears to his 
loss instead of to our own. Love for the departed makes us 
feel that his love has lost our fellowship, and we weep, as we 
say, for him. But his love for us is really inseparable from our 
love for him, both in fact and in idea ; and it is this latter love 
which psychologically plays the greater share in moving us to 
tears on his account. Our love has lost him and all he meant 
for our world. This is correctly put in the Sonnets 2 in the 

44 How many a holy and obsequious tear 
Hath dear icligiuus lew* stolen from mine eye 
As interest of the dead." 

The loss, we have said, always affects personal welfare in 
some form. But it may affect it in two ways, either by taking 
away part of its substance, or by removing some hindrance that 
was seriously threatening our welfare. The former is no doubt 
the more familiar and commoner source of tears. The latter is 
what we have in the curious case of tears of joy. Here the 
dreaded issue we were thinking of intensely and, to all appearance, 
seeing carried out (perhaps even assisting to carry out), was one 
which would overthrow a great good we wished and hoped for. 
Events remove the impending or imagined issue, and the 

1 "Oh, weep for Adonais he is dead." "Weep for him" because cut off 
arbitrarily from all the good he knew and which we know : " weep for him " because 
he cannot weep for himself, 

* Shakespeare, Sonnets, 31. 


previous current of our thought is arrested. But its sheer 
momentum, which would have terminated in tears had the issue 
really taken place, carries us still on in the direction of that 
issue, and we break down into tears even though the actual 
result is joyful and gratifying. We do not really weep over the 
good realised, nor over the loss of the evil that actually did 
imperil it, but over the loss of the end that we imagine was really 
impending. At what time we begin to think of the loss of this 
end, is a subordinate point. Sometimes we think of it before- 
hand, as when a parent thinks a son injured or dead who after- 
wards returns : sometimes we think of it after the happy 
result has arrived, as when the mother begins to weep when she 
hears from her son in what terrible dangers he has been placed 
while she supposed him safe and sound. 1 Sometimes it is the 
discovery of the privation that existed prior to the arrival of a 
happier state of affairs, as when a poor man weeps on discovering 
he has been left a substantial fortune. Tears of gratitude, so 
closely akin to tears of joy, are of this character. In general, 
any fears and hopes may give rise to tears ; and the alternation 
from one to the other has a mentally disturbing effect which 
facilitates the flow. As it is put in another of the Sonnets 2 

" What potions have I drunk of Siren tears 

Distilled from limbecs foul as hell within, 
Applying fears to hopes and hopes to fears 
Still losing when I saw myself to win." 

It need hardly be said that the increment of good creating 
joy does not always produce tears, but only in certain highly 
susceptible natures. 

Sometimes the ends in relation to which tears arise are not 
clearly before our minds at all. They well up from we know 
not where, and we know not why. 

1 It is in such cases that we have often an alternation of tears and laughter, an 
alternation which is not due to hysteria, but is perfectly noimal. For in these cases 
the mind attends alternately to the end as triumphant over haphazard events, and to 
the end as imperilled or overthrown by such events. The first creates laughter, the 
second tears : and the alteration of the direction of attention pi educes the oscillation 
in the kind of emotion displayed. 

2 Sonnets, 119. 


' Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, 
Tears from the depths of some divine despair 
Rise in the heart and gather to the eyes, 
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, 
And thinking of the days that are no more." 

The last line perhaps gives a very definite clue to the source 
of the tears, and shows them to be not idle or without meaning. 
But the poet is portraying a very real and a not unfamiliar 
experience, at least to those whose appreciation of the world 
goes deeper than the surface of this sea of change in which we 
float through space and time. Not merely happy autumn fields, 
but the glory of light and colour in an awakening spring, or the 
beating life of a refulgent summer day, can create a mood that 
overwhelms the spirit by a sadness interfused with joy, if once 
we have learned 

" To look on nature not as in the hour 
Of thoughtless youth ; but hearing oftentimes 
The still, sad music of humanity, 
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
To chasten and subdue." 

A similar effect can be produced by unusual beauty in 
poetry, or again, by certain strains of music. How are these 
half-unconscious overflowings from the well of human tears 
to be accounted for ? In some cases no doubt they stir up 
memories of a tearful kind that mingle with the present, as in 
the case when we think on " the days that are no more." In 
others, it is hardly possible to discover anything specific or 
definite to which to attach the emotion, and give the cause a 
local habitation and a name. What takes place in such cases is 
that, underlying the loveliness that meets the eye or ear, there is 
the sense of the destiny controlling, be it ever so kindly, the 
transitory purposes of our individual life. The very perfection 
which makes the loveliness what it is, rests upon a masterful 
necessity greater than ourselves, and in relation to which, 
because it seizes us so irresistibly, we seem as nothing. Our 
mood is hence a compound of a sense of pathos and a feeling of 
fulfilment ; the fulfilment gives us the gladness that tips with 
silvery joy the towering waves of feeling ; the pathos carries us 
to the grim depths whose sombre and unimaginable power 


strikes awe into the very heart of life. In all such moods the 
individual feels himself, as it were, overwhelmed : his selfhood 
seems to disappear altogether and to melt away into the 
impersonal being of the world. 


This complex mood naturally leads to the last point that is 
worth referring to the connection between tears and tragedy. 
We saw before, that comedy is a dramatisation of situations 
which have in them the conditions of laughter, but that the 
drama, in virtue of its planned arrangement to secure a happy 
issue, is something more than a mere series of laughable situa- 
tions. This something more is the controlled relation of the 
steps in the drama to produce a result that satisfies the actors in 
terms of an accepted standard of social good. The agent and 
the spectator can thus at last see both the how and the why of 
the process which has taken place. The laughable situation 
shows the incongruity of a process with an end which holds its 
own, if necessary even in conflict with the process : the dramatic 
situation brings out the end finally triumphant over all obstacles. 
In the first, the issue is in suspension ; in the second, it is 
definitely realised. 

In tragedy we have a corresponding dramatic development 
of the tearful situation. In a situation causing tears we find, as 
we saw, a finished series of events whose effect is to produce 
the actual loss of an end desired as a good. Such situations 
constantly occur in the individual's life history, and in each case 
he is face to face with a completed process of events beyond 
his power to change. The issue is not in suspense ; it is done, 
and the end is done away. While the process was taking place, 
there was some possibility of the good coming through safely. 
A finished process is beyond recall or modification. It must be 
accepted as a necessity, as a fate. It brings home poignantly to 
the individual that his human purposes, those ends that make 
his life worth while, are not always in favour with the course of 
the world ; shows to him that at least his individual purpose is 
not merely at the mercy of agencies which may thwart him, but 


that he is impotent to prevent or alter their operation. Such a 
situation is unintelligible, when the end desired is, and continues 
to be, precious ; and none the less unintelligible because the 
process which thwarted the end may have been inevitable from 
point to point. The individual thus feels himself and his ends 
alienated from, and opposed to, the sequence of events without 
which his purpose cannot be realised, and yet with which, as the 
issue shows, that purpose cannot succeed. 

This is more or less dimly appreciated in every situation 
which causes tears. Now, the transition in thought is easy from 
what has happened to what may at any time happen, Le. to the 
conception that the very nature of things is such that at some point 
or another the individual's particular ends, no matter how much 
desired, nay, that even the individual himself, be he never so 
good, may be thrust aside and overthrown. When this con- 
ception of things is grasped and worked out in a consecutive 
plan of action, we have tragic drama. The essence of the tragic 
situation is that the course of events in nature and human life 
can and does, in obedience to its own appointed laws or condi- 
tions, take a direction which frustrates even the most treasured 
ends of the individual, and may, if need be, completely over- 
whelm the personality itself. Whether it be the course of nature 
alone that does so, as in the tragic ruin of the human splendours 
of Pompeii, or whether it be the operation of social forces that 
brings disaster to human individuals and whole nations, as in 
the supreme tragedy wrought out recently in the case of Belgium, 
or whether it be both together in each and every case the 
situation is the same. The situations lie as evidently and as 
really within the system of things as life and death. The 
tragic dramatist seizes on the underlying principle, selects a 
definite situation, and gives it intellectual and articulate ex- 
pression. No doubt the most poignant tragedies are those where 
the very action of the social forces, that make for the welfare 
of the individual, seems so arranged as to bring about the over- 
throw of his ends and of his personality ; for there the ends of 
the individual are so intimate to him that they prescribe the very 
laws on which his life as a human being is constructed. To be 
overthrown in obeying these is indeed to be overwhelmed. It is 


such tragedies that we find commonly portrayed in the greatest 
works of both ancient and modern tragic drama. Sometimes it 
is the legitimate but overstrained ends of individuals which are 
overthrown, and which overthrow the persons themselves, as in 
Julius Caesar or Macbeth. At other times it is the spontaneous 
operation of perfectly normal and healthy purposes whose tragic 
overthrow we are allowed to witness ; and then the tension and 
pathos of the situation reach their highest point This we 
have, e.g., in King Lear, surely the high-water mark of human 

But whatever be the situation, the aim of the dramatist is to 
bring out to view and lay before us such a plan at work in the 
affairs of men as leads to the overthrow of his cherished ends, or, 
again, of his entire personality. The difference between the 
tearful situation and the tragedy lies in the conscious absence in 
the one case, and the conscious presence in the other of a scheme 
of events which leads steadily on to the final result. In both the 
situation is in principle the same. And since life precedes 
reflection, it seems possible that the everyday fact of the tears 
of men and women provided the first concrete material to the 
tragic dramatist, and suggested the task he seeks to fulfil in the 
higher spiritual interests of humanity. 

We must not, however, suppose that the tragedy presents a 
series of opportunities of tears for the spectator. True comedy 
is more than a succession of ludicrous situations ; tragedy more 
than a succession of tearful situations. The success of the tragedy 
depends on the degree in which the dramatist can portray the 
steady inevitableness of the issue. When this is displayed, there 
comes to light a certain coherent orderliness in the whole proceed- 
ing, which reacts on our attitude towards the situation itself. 
Reasonableness has the effect of reconcilement. It furthers the 
mood of submission and acquiescence. We find that if the tear- 
stricken individual can realise this, his tears are sweetened, and 
may even be assuaged. The reasonableness, however, appeals 
most to the onlooking spectator : a man can rarely be a spectator 
of his own woes. The spectator, as he observes the development 
of the plan or plot, finds his immediate sympathy with the actors 
losing its intensity and giving way before his interest in the 


clear view of the whole issue. The intensity of his sympathy 
would lead him, as it does in everyday life, to weep with the 
sufferers. Some dramas produce this effect on some spectators. 
But the comprehension of the plan generally alters his emotional 
attitude to the actors. Instead of breaking down in tears, the 
spectator is moved, as Aristotle said long ago, to pity and to 
fear : pity for the individuals overwhelmed, fear for himself lest 
he find himself in circumstances which, because typical and 
general, might very well be his own. The plan is objective, 
outside the spectator, and grasped as something external. Hence 
both pity and fear are, so to say, spectacular in character ; they 
can be shared and understood by the spectators in common, and 
are the emotional correlatives of the intellectual comprehension 
of the plan which is laid before them. 

It need not be said that tragedy is not written or presented 
in order to create such pity or fear ; or in order to " purify " the 
emotions of the spectators. Aristotle's language would seem to 
suggest this educative influence of tragedy. But it is no more 
the business of tragedy to educate or exhort than it is the aim 
of comedy to give moral lessons. The educative effect produced 
by tragedy is a subsidiary and indirect consequence. The point 
rather is that the emotions of pity and fear are those awakened 
by the tragedy, just as the emotion of gladness or satisfaction 
is the necessary outcome of a successful comedy. Both tragedy 
and comedy qua drama are outside the sphere of morality ; they 
take the moral point of view for granted, and use it to supply 
material which can be re-cast and interpreted from the dramatic 
point of view. 


It is of interest before leaving the subject to try to answer 
the question, What is the mental value of laughter and tears 
in the economy of human experience ? What is their vital 
significance ? We seem bound to consider them to be as inevitable 
expressions of human mentality as joy or fear, or as the pursuit 
of truth or beauty. There seems no justification for regarding 
them as pathological in any sense of the term. That they may 


take pathological forms is obvious ; so can any normal instinct 
assume pathological shapes. But the distortion of a human quality 
is not the test of its meaning. We must therefore rule out as 
both inadequate and absurd the contention of one medical writer, 
no less a person than Sir Arthur Mitchell, who maintains that 
" laughter is a state of mental disorder." Such a view reminds 
one of the theory that genius is insanity, because, presumably, 
it is exceptionally sane, or perhaps because some insane people 
have had moments of unusual inspiration. There is a want of 
both clear reasoning and accurate analysis in such distorted 

Nor can I agree that laughter and tears are in any way due 

to misapprehension or illusory apprehension of actual human 

situations. This is in essence what Bergson's view of laughter 

amounts to. He says, " attitudes, gestures, and movements of the 

human body are laughable in the exact proportion that the body 

makes us think it a simple mechanism ; " l again, " every incident 

is comic which calls our attention to the physical aspect of a 

person, when the peculiar shape of this physical aspect had its 

source in moral causes :" further, "laughter always -arises when 

a person gives the impression of a* thing : " and once more, 

" every arrangement of acts and events is comic which gives the 

illusion of life, and the mere sense of a mechanical arrangement" 

In a word, laughter arises through an illusory apprehension of 

a living thing as a mechanism. But the effect of laughter is, he 

oddly says, to correct the illusion : it is a reaction against illusion 

or disorder, which thus reinstates the truth, and abolishes the 

disorder. Surely this is straining intelligence to misunderstand 

a very simple phenomenon ; it is verily a comic distortion of 

laughter itself. Doubtless in many cases when life takes on the 

appearance of a mechanism, we certainly laugh : e.g. at a clown's 

movements. But in other cases we are as certainly moved to pity 

or pain at the sight, e.g. when an individual is hypnotised or in a 

state of somnambulism. Again, we also laugh when a mechanism 

1 Spinoza is said to have found it laughable to watch the struggles of a fly trying 
to escape the fateful entanglements of a spider. His enjoyment over this minor horror 
of animal life is perhaps explicable in the light of his theory that animals were 


simulates life, e.g. a Punch and Judy show ; but in other cases we 
are terrified at the sight of mechanism assuming the powers of 
living agents. Moreover, the theory at its best could cover only a 
limited range of cases of laughter, those, namely, which are or 
can be visibly mechanised. But it does not apply, e.g., in the 
complex contretemps of social life, where we have eminently 
laughable situations which cannot be placed on the stage all at 
once, and whose elements consist of emotions, motives and ideas. 
Moreover, Bergson's view does not cover even cases which he 
considers, e.g. the comic element in words ; for this, he has to 
invent a different interpretation, the confusion, irregular con- 
junction or transposition of words and their meanings. It is 
straining terms to the verge of absurdity to regard this as a 
mechanising or materialising of the living sense of language. A 
theory of laughter should be in such a form that it can be applied 
in the same sense to all cases where laughter occurs. Behind 
Bergson's view there lies perhaps a vague insight into the principle 
that I have put forward that laughter is the appreciation of the 
incongruity of a process or its elements with an end which holds 
its own in spite of the incongruity. This clearly covers cases 
where the mechanical aspect of a process stands in relief against 
a living reality which it seems to counterfeit, for this living reality 
is obviously one that works according to ends. 

Bitf the most important objection to Bergson's view is that it 
regards laughter as arising out of illusory apprehension, and in 
that sense is a kind of illusory experience. In actual experience, 
however, if there is anything we are sure of, it is that our laughter 
is no illusion to ourselves, but an intensely vivid experience, that 
it neither rests on illusion nor consists in illusion, so far as our 
own experience goes at the time we laugh. For nothing can 
shake us out of our laughter, except the alteration of our appreci- 
ation of the situation. From the point of view at which we see 
the laughable situation, the laughter arises as inevitably and as 
spontaneously as fear before a terrifying spectacle. It is highly 
questionable, indeed, if there is any meaning in the phrase 
u illusory emotion." All emotions are real while they last, what- 
ever else may be said of them. Our appreciation may be mis- 
taken, and laughter may arise from the mistake ; but the 



laughter is justified by the appreciation, such as it was ; and 
again, a perfectly correct apprehension, as we saw, will in many 
cases lead to laughter. In short, we do not make things laugh- 
able by illusory apprehension ; laughter results because a 
situation is such that to be aware of it at all will bring about 
laughter. The situation suggests the appreciation, and so the 
laughter. The apprehension does not distort the situation. 
Bergson's mistake lies in confusing those two kinds of knowledge 
which we carefully distinguished the intellectual apprehension 
of a situation, and the appreciation of it. For Bergson, comedy 
is essentially due to an intellectual understanding or misunder- 
standing of a situation. As he says, " Comedy is addressed to 
the pure intelligence.'* If this were true, then doubtless the 
laughter might be due to an illusory apprehension, and the 
correctness of the understanding would, as we said, dissipate 
the illusion and so abolish the laughter. But laughter is not due 
to a mere process of understanding at all. The apprehension 
of a situation is presupposed in laughter ; but in order that 
laughter may arise, the situation must also be appreciated, i.e. 
must be judged in the light of an end to which the process or 
material, involved in ,the situation, stands in a certain relation, 
namely, the relation of incongruity. The incongruity is an actual 
fact, so is the end, and therefore the appreciation is bien fondu, 
and is perfectly correct. 

The same line of criticism would apply to the case of tears, 
which, however, Bergson, among his many ingenious discussions, 
has not yet dealt with. 

Setting aside such views, the one to which our analysis points 
is this. There are many situations in our experience which 
present real or imagined incongruities, and to these we must 
and do take up a definite mental attitude. All our mental 
operations may be said to be simply adjustments of our mind to 
its mental environment, to its world ; they are ways in which we 
preserve our identity or unity in the midst of the endless 
manifold with which we are confronted. Sometimes the manifold 
details can be well knit together, sometimes they cannot. Yet 
in both cases we must adapt ourselves to what lies before us. H 
we cannot put the details of experience into an orderly setting 


at once, or after an effort, then we must, to preserve our mental 
balance or mental unity, meet the facts in some other way which 
will still maintain a sense of security in face of the confronting 
environment. The variety of our emotions fear, hope, etc. 
testifies to the variety of our mental attitudes to those things 
confronting us, which we are unable adequately to grasp in 
a coherent, intelligible way. Now the emotional attitude 
expressing itself in laughter is that attitude which we assume 
towards a situation where a real incongruity exists, or is felt to 
exist, between a process or element standing in relation to an 
end which holds its own, but is not fulfilled. The inarticulate 
outburst of sound in which laughter is expressed, corresponds 
precisely to the admitted unintelligible character of the situation. 
We must adopt some attitude to such a situation ; it is there to 
be met, and has to be faced, if we are to give it a place in 
experience at all. The way we do this is to laugh at it. This 
preserves our stability of mind, our unity, in the face of this 
particular portion of our environment ; and we do not preserve 
it in such cases by any other way. The laughter at once 
expresses its value for us, and gives us the sense of detachment 
from what would otherwise be a situation creating serious mental 
perplexity. Chaos in our environment means chaos in our 
mental outlook : and chaos is the one supreme peril that our mind 
cannot possibly meet or endure. To prevent any mental 
disaster, therefore, we must meet situations containing this sort of 
incongruity in a manner consistent with our mental stability. 
Hence laughter ; and hence the note of triumph which almost 
invariably rings through healthy laughter. It is a note which is 
justified, for we have in laughter triumphed over the incoherent, 
we have kept up our belief in the end which holds its own, and we 
have preserved ourselves in the face of the incongruous. 

In tears again, an analogous attitude is taken up to a situation 
which actually presents an uncomprehended conflict between the 
course of events and our still desired ends. There is no doubt 
about the vivid reality of such a situation ; it is not an illusion, 
it is a fact, and a cruel fact in many cases, that the ends we cherish 
and pursue are thwarted and overthrown by the course of things. 
We must meet this situation somehow by taking up an attitude 

U 2 


which will keep our mental balance in the face of the environment 
that confronts us. We appreciate its significance for us, and 
must, if possible, express what it means. Otherwise, our mind 
would recoil in helplessness and alienation from the situation 
that is presented. This we cannot do, for the simple reason that 
our mind and the confronting world are inseparably connected, 
and to give up our capacity to make a proper mental adjustment 
is to give up being or having a mind altogether. In tearful 
emotion we meet the situation that spells the failure of our 
cherished purpose, by assuming an attitude which at once con- 
fesses our loss and at the same time the continued value to us 
of the cherished end which still holds sway over our desire. We 
submit, but we still sustain our mental unity in clinging to the 
desired end. The world has foiled our purpose but cannot foil 
ourselves. If we cannot gain our end, we can at least retain it 
in our sense of the loss ; and to express this keeps us from 
sheer mental disorder and confusion. We succumb to a situation 
which admits of no intelligent reconcilement, and in order to 
express ourselves, we make use of inarticulate processes of 
organic emotion. We break down into tears which we readily 
allow to flow. By so doing we relieve the tension which has been 
created between us and our environment by the defeat of our 
purpose. And by relieving the tension we help to fill the 
breach between the two. This prepares the way for new 
efforts to realise new ends in spite of a temporarily hostile 
environment. Hence, the curative effect of tears is no merely 
physical accident due to exhaustion, but implies a vital connection 
between the mind and its environment. 

Bearing in mind the apparent connection between laughter 
and tears on the one hand, and comedy and tragedy on the other 
we cannot be surprised that the dramatic aspect of life, which is 
so profound in its importance and so true to our experience, should 
take such a hold upon us. Our experience involves the whole in- 
corporated structure of individuality, physical and mental ; and 
part of it can come to light in the apparently fortuitous, but 
really inevitable, form of laughter and of tears. 


NOTE. A passing reference may be made to the physiological side, if only for 
the light it throws on the contrast these emotions bear to one another. 

To the physiologist laughter appears as a vocal sound of an explosive character, 
produced by the chest relieving itself of a deep inspiration of air through disconnected 
spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm, which vary in interval, volume, and quality 
according to the special structure of individuals and the character of the emotion to be 
expressed. Its cause seems to be the sudden liberation of a temporarily increased 
accumulation of central nervous energy, which seeks to discharge its whole force at 
once, and in doing so diffuses this force throughout the entire organism, but more 
especially through the outlet of the throat and mouth, in a succession of gradually 
diminishing shocks or shakings. This explains \vhy the blood is congested prior to 
the laugh and resumes its normal flow after the laugh has taken place. As a result of 
the deep inspiration of oxygen and the flooding of the blood vessels, the eye brightens 
and the face " lights up." The whole organism is raised to a higher pitch of vitality, 
and when the laughter dies down there is an intense organic sensation of " relief." 

In crying, on the other hand, the physiologist bees a muscular compression of the 
gland situated in the upper outer and nasal side of the eye, and containing a 
transparent liquid whose chief constituents are water and salt. The primary function 
of this gland is to lubricate constantly the inner lining of the eyelids and thereby the 
outer surface of the eyeball, in order to replace the moisture evaporating from this 
outer surface exposed to the rays of light and heat. Thus, just as laughter is an 
emotional utilisation of the function of breathing, so weeping is an emotional 
utilisation of an organic function of lubrication. Development has brought about this 
transformation and only experience can discover the connection between mental states 
and bursts of sound on the one hand, and an unusual flow of lubricating fluid on the 

The cause of weeping seems to lie in a sudden lowering of the tone and flow of 
vital energy, winch reverses its primary tendency outwards and turns the energy of the 
organism against itself. This disturbance finds expression in effusions of the 
lachrymal gland, and gradually by a series of convulsions leads to the general collapse 
of the organism ; and in this lower state its equilibrium is restored and rises again 
approximately to its previous level. 

The contrast between laughter and tears on their physical side is plain and is 
instructive. In laughter we have a sudden heightening of the vital energy of the 
organism ; in weeping a sudden arrest and lowering of the normal outward flow of 
energy. In laughing we have spasmodic liberation of the accumulation of vital energy 
in a series of shakings of gradually diminishing violence ; in crying a forceful attempt to 
restrain the outgoing energy in its primaiy direction. Both aie forms of restoration of 
equilibrium laughter the restoration from a heightened potential, crying a restoration 
from a lowered potential. Both again are forms of expression of organic energy, and 
hence both terminate in a stale of relief from nervous tension : in the case of laughter 
it is the relief of free expansion, in tears the relief from prolonged repression. 


Absolute, 12 
Animism, 150 11. 

Anthropomorphism, 21 ft"., 131, 139 
Aristole, 4 n., 51 n., 87 n., 141, 168 n., 

212 n., 226 n., 254, 271, 287 
Art, 163, 219, 247 
Athanasius, 46 


Balfour, 182 n., 190 n. 

Bain, 254, 271 

Beauty, 39, 43, 161, 245 

Bergson, 192 n., 215 n., 288 f. 

Bosanquet, 3 n., 6 ff., 16 n., 62 n., 131 n., 

214 n., 227 n. 
Boutroux, 98 
Bradley, 34, 36, 38, 43, 62 n., 84 n., 86, 

99, 118, 121, 124, 130, 213 n. 


Categories, 67 ff. 

Combarieu, 91 n., 162 n. 

Comedy, 265 ff. 

Common sense, 10 

Comte, 98 

Conceptions, 22 ff., 64 ff. 

Congrdfence, 28 

Continuity in memory, HO ff. 

Contradiction, 7 n., 31 ff. 

Copying, 51 n., 57 f., 225 f. 

Cournot, 98, 101 


Darwin, 240, 244 
De Candolle, 242 n. 
Denial, 173 
Desire, 51 
Dickens, 267 
TDivine, emotional consciousness of, 141, 

165 ff. 

Divine, knowledge of, 55 
Dogmatism, 173 

Education, 253 

Education of emotion, 152 f. 

Emotion, 40 f., 50, 78 ff., chap, v., 175 
Ends in laughter and tears, chap. ix. 
Ethical theories, 4 
Existence, 143 n. 
Experience, 192 f. 

Fabre, 88 n. 
Faith, 44 ff., 167 
Frazer 140 n. 

Goethe, 256 n., 273 
Goodness, 245, 247 
Greek Sceptics, 177 
Greek thought, 135 
Grey, 102 n. 


f Jamilton, 124 

Harlmann, 4 n. 

Hegel, 34, 192 f., 223 

Human beings, knowledge of, 54 

Humanities, 245 ff., 252 f. 

Humanity and philosophy, 196 ff. 

Humboldt, 97 n. 

Hume, 34, 128, 135, 175, 190 

Huxley, 84 n., 215 n. 

Hypothesis, 29 


Ideal, 76 

Ideas, scepticism regarding, 1 80 ff. 

Imagination, 88 ff. 

Incongruity, chap. ix. 

Individuality, 17 ff., 76, 144 ff. 

Inference, 74 ff. 

Intellect, 22 ff., 92 ff. 

Intellectualism, 135 f. 

Italian sceptics, 173 

Judgment, 66, 72 ff. 
Judgment in memory, 105 ff. 
Judgment of appreciation, 256 f. 
Judgment of understanding, 256 f. 




Kant, 33, 34, 36, 62 n., 192 
Keats, 223 n., 247 
Knowledge, 10 ff,, chap. ii. 

Laughter, 255 ff., 288 ff. 
Leisure, 202 f. 
Locke, 62 n. 
Logic, 2 f., 77 
Lotee, 36 n., 62 n. 
Love, 167 ff. 


Mach, 235 

Mathematical method, 9 n. 

Mathematical science, 239 

Memory, 91 f., chap. iv. 

Metaphysics, 4 ff. 

Method in philosophy, 228 n. 

Merz, 86 n., 98 n., loo n., 204 n. 

Mill, 215 n., 227 n. 

Milton, 98 


Nature, 231 f., 234 f. 
Negation, 173 


Object in knowledge, 52 ff., 63 

Object in memory, 108 ff. 

Objectivity of conceptions, 13, 14, 26 ff . 

Past, 1 08 ff., 114 f. 

Pater, 99 n. 

Perception, 30, 60 f., 174 fl. 

Personality, 9, 12, 165 ff. 

Poetry, 38 

Poincare, 237 

A 1 Active, *>\J *>', -"- 

Pragmatism, 14 f. 

Progress in philosophy, 1 , 229 

Pythagoras, 93 n. 

Real, 57 

Reality, 6, 10, 12, 37 ft., 46, 144 


Recollection, 125 
Reminiscence, 125 
Reproduction of real, 58 
Russell, 87 

Satisfaction, 211 

Scepticism, chap. vi. 

Science, 233 ff., 241 ff., 247 

Science and philosophy, 199 

Scientific procedure, 231, 234 ff. 

Self in memory, 120 f. 

Self-will, 186 

Sense qualities, 59 

Shakespeare, 41, 267, 281, 282 

Shelley, 274, 281 n. 

Sidgwick, 4 n. 

Social life, 25, 100 f., 116, 146 n., 155 ff., 

208 ff., 263 ff., 270 flf. 
Spencer, 227 n. 
Spinoza, 167 n., 288 n. 
Systems of philosophy, 67, 206, 221, 227 
Sterne, 279 

Tears, 272 ff., 291 f. 

Thought, 10, 17, 22 ff., 34 f., 61 ff. 

Tragedy, 284 ff. 

Truth, 13 ff., chap, i,, 245 

Tyndall, 102, 103 


Universality, 25 

Unity of thought, 216 ff. 


Wagner, 91 n., 161 n. 

Wallace, 219 n. 

Wallas, 221 n. 

Ward, 7 n., 98 

Wordsworth, 5, 90, 223 n., 246, 24$